Waterways is Underway

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SEPTEMBER 23, 2013 – LANE SHORDEE
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Waterways is a collaboration between Ivan Ostepenko, Alia Shahab, Lane Shordee and the Antyx youth outreach program. Over the last month our team has been working on a special commemorative water sculpture in response to the flooding that happened in our city. The purpose was to collect flood debris and make a fun and creative way to use water in a public sculpture.
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We are a few days away from completing our Phantom Wing installation and we have a balanced water system.  Our youth participants have been a tremendous help throughout this project, adding a youthful spirit that sometimes we can forget.  So far we have made our large moves toward our goal and we have accomplished moving water through our contraption in a continuous closed system.  It was a slight hurdle to get the water pumping up onto the roof, because although the pump we used was rated for 16 feet head height, it still did not want to make it up.  Luckily it turned out that the more powerful pump was cheaper and on sale.  We installed it and it gave us more than we needed to sustain a steady flow of water without overflowing any of the reservoirs.
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Our apparatus was suspended and we were off to make our smaller moves, taking on the small projects that make the sculpture come together.  We did have some minor leaks and splashing, but soon alleviated that with some splash guards made with plexi-glass that we found at the King Edward School, which in the end became one of the multiple themes that was incorporated into the water sculpture.  For this project the flood material consisted of all sorts of items like drift wood, coolers, plastic pipes, fence boards etc. We found multicoloured wooden boards great for making mosaics which our volunteers took on as their own and became a centerpiece for the entire project.
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An understanding and respect for water is one of the main ideas that we wanted to communicate through this sculpture.  Water has left a bitter taste in peoples mouth due to the major flooding that happened during the june flood.  People lost their homes and their possessions during this time.  We on the other hand wanted to enliven and change our current perceptions of water.  Water is such a strong but malleable substance that is inherently beautiful, but has a destructive power.  Personally as an artist I am constantly looking for substances that I can’t fully predict, and sometimes by sheer happenstance and will, they come together in a way that can be beautifully real and understandable.  Items collected from the flood have meaning to us that is uniquely Calgarian because its our stuff floating around on the river banks.  This project is a reflection on how easily a benign substance can impact so many lives in so many different ways.
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Our new friends Kamilla Elttasi and Sam Dyck that came through the Antyx program got a glimpse into what art and creation was all about.  Being part of this bigger project, that is the Phantom Wing, they saw first hand what artists can come together to do, and how many approaches one can take to achieve a work of art that communicates, lives, and eventually gets discarded.  This project is all about doing work that eventually will be gone, but realizing the value in the temporary and the messages that live beyond this project.  We look forward to a week of sharing our own experiences, and talking to people about the way in which water and the flooding has changed their perspectives.
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