Manufactured River-The Art of Wastewater Treatment

 Project Statement


 I am fascinated by the science and engineering required to turn sewage into clean water. Most people think of government as an abstract concept. I am delving into this gritty business to learn about the biological, chemical and physical processes used to treat waste water and then create art that highlights this industry.Working with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago I learned the basics of the treatment process and used that information to create art that captures the spirit and science of the industry. I  worked with a democratic assortment of textiles from expensive silks and prints to humble denim and cottons to express the diversity in the work place at a treatment plant. Scientists, engineers, operators and trades people work side by side to keep our water clean. Their commitment to excellence inspired this project.

WEFTEC 2013 McCormack Place, Chicago, IL



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More work available upon request

  Plant Infrastructure

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  Soil Sentinels- Bio Solids

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  Microbiology Statement

The heart of the waste water treatment process occurs in the aeration tanks at the plant. Engineers, scientists and operators have duplicated the process nature uses to clean fresh water streams, lakes and rivers. What takes days in nature is condensed into mere hours. In the aeration tanks, a Shakespearean drama unfolds as armies of microbes live, die and vie for dominance in the activated sludge process. As the waste water flows through the treatment plant, microbes are concentrated in the aeration tanks. There they can clean billions of gallons of our waste water every day.

 Plant Infrastructure Statement

In these pieces, Poseidon’s Siblings I and II, I am evoking waves  of water using the language of high fashion. The shape of the whole piece is meant to mirror the shape of the aeration tank where billions of gallons of waste water are cleaned by an army of microbes. Through the use of extravagant ruffles and a sturdy industrial textile, I’m building a contrast between the heavy duty treatment process and Poseidon’s power.  You can see his trident spearing the waves in a powerful gesture.  In linking the myth of Poseidon… protector of water… with the people whose job it is to clean our waste water, I am disrupting a cultural perception that waste water is something to flush and forget.

Soil Sentinels- Bio Solids Statement

The Soil Sentinels evoke both the primal forces involved in soil formation and the simple industrial processes used in manufacturing Biosolids. Biosolids are a beneficial byproduct of waste water treatment created through a highly technical process. They are a remarkable material we can use to enrich the soil with nutrients removed through agricultural production. The organic material in biosolids also improve soil tilth and provides structure to soil. The Soil Sentinels are a primitive, earthy expression of the life cycle of soil and manufactured biosolids.  We use the soil to grow the food we eat. We digest our food and if we are smart, we return our waste and nutrients back to the soil to enrich the soil for future generations.