The Santa Fe Art Institute, in coordination with 350.org, spearheaded the New Mexico FLASH FLOOD for a Living River project on Saturday, one of more than a dozen global art events photographed from space, and demanding meaningful climate solutions.
Photo by Don Usner
Girl Scouts, church groups, businesspeople & students were among over 1,500 local citizens who stood in the dry Santa Fe riverbed. The Santa Fe river has been designated one of America’s most endangered rivers.The snowmelt feeding the Santa Fe River provides 40% of the water for City of Santa Fe, and as temperatures rise and snow pack dwindles, New Mexico and the entire Western United States face threats of serious ongoing drought, endangering ecosystems, economies, physical and mental health.
“The earth's arid areas are growing steadily dryer; without concerted international action their future is in doubt,” stated Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. “Santa Fe’s FLASH FLOOD event is one of the first great examples of vulnerable people demanding to be heard — acting with creativity and beauty, but also with great hope.”
To illustrate their vision for a living river and a sustainable ecosystem, New Mexicans of all ages and faiths carried and flipped blue-painted recycled cardboard and other blue materials to compose a visual "flash flood" in the dry riverbed, and recreated where the Santa Fe River should be flowing.
Santa Fe Mayor David Coss commented, “The Santa Fe River sustains the people, and the people need to sustain the Santa Fe River. This project is a true demonstration of the connection between our community and our river.”
Diane Karp, Director of the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI), says today’s event also showcases the potential bridge between communities of art and politics. “The purpose of our action is not to fix the river because art will not do that,” Karp says, adding, “but art does have the power to reach the hearts and minds of the people who come into contact with it and inspire them into political action.”
Buffalo Dancers from Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan) pueblo entering the Santa Fe River bed to participate in Flash Flood, Photo by Dianne Stromberg
The art action and aerial design was visible and documented from outer space via satellite, from helicopter and 150 ft. tall crane by award-winning cinematographer Doug Crawford, and from the ground by still cameras, video cameras, and thousands of individual cell phones. The FLASH FLOOD satellite images will be projected worldwide alongside the 17 other global aerial designs as part of the Cancun Climate Change Summit, November 29 – December 10, 2010.
SFAI coordinated thousands of people to form the art piece within a window of a few seconds while the satellite flew overhead at 17,000 miles per hour taking pictures from 400 miles above the planet’s surface.
“If we could work from space to create a picture of sustainability and a vision of a vibrant desert, our politicians should be able to craft meaningful climate legislation,” says Karp. “Our many languages and cultures, histories and perspectives merge in this community art project, focusing on the Santa Fe River and its importance for us all. Art can make the difference that makes the difference.”
Image by Michael Clark
The large coalition of community institutions formed around the FLASH FLOOD project includes:
ARGK Design, Capitol High School, City of Santa Fe, Coalition for Clean and Affordable Energy, Community Farm Santa Fe, DeVargas Middle School, Desert Academy, Earth Care International, EarthWorks Institute, Frenchy’s Field and Commons Community Groups, Girls Go Green, IATSE Local 480, Institute of American Indian Arts, KSFR, Lemeraux Cranes, McCune Charitable Foundation, Milagro Project, New Energy Economy, New Mexico Arts Commission, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, The Redford Institute, Regenesis, River Source, Jim L. Salazar, CFM, Salazar Elementary School, Santa Fe Arts Commission, Santa Fe Business Alliance, Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe Complex, Santa Fe Congregations, Santa Fe County Trails & Open Spaces, Santa Fe Girls School, Santa Fe Parks Commission, Santa Fe Prep, Santa Fe Reporter, Santa Fe River Commission, Santa Fe University of Art & Design, Santa Fe Trails, Santa Fe Watershed Association, State of New Mexico, Watershed West, WildEarth Guardians, Youth Works