Water Woman Remembers
In 2024, Still Moon Arts is beginning a community-engaged art project that explores our collective sense of place and our connection to water, here and now, and in our places of origin. We will host intercultural conversations where community members will share their memories, stories and hopes for water and inscribe these on fabric swatches which will be sewn together into a dress for ‘Water Woman’ a giant puppet which will be created to embody our community’s collective relationship with water. Water Woman Remembers will be featured at the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival.
This project has three main components:
1. Water Woman
A giant puppet co-created with the community who embodies our relationship with water, and how it holds our memories, our love, and our grief. The puppet will be built primarily from water-loving plants such as willow and rushes.
2. Water Conversations
We will host a series of free community gatherings with guest facilitators and storytellers from diverse cultural backgrounds. Each gathering will be led by two or three storytellers. At these gatherings, attendees will have the opportunity to:
- Hear stories and memories of water from storytellers from diverse cultural backgrounds.
- Share the practical and emotional aspects of their own relationship with water, both here and in their places of origin, as well as the role of water in their hopes for the future.
- Contribute to creating the ‘Water Woman’ puppet by decorating a fabric swatch which will be incorporated into Water Woman’s dress. Swatches will contain words or images which encapsulate a personal memory or wish that relates to water.
- Get to know others in the community by working on a hands-on project together.
- Record a short video showing their contribution to the dress and commenting on what it means to them.
- Share food and conversation while gaining a richer understanding of the universal and complex role that water plays in the lives and cultures of diverse communities both locally and globally.
3. Performance and Display
The puppet and a video created from the water conversation recordings will be featured at the annual free Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival and we will seek out opportunities to display them in the community and at local galleries.
As we host community water conversations we will invite participants to write their water story, poem or image on fish-scale-shaped swatches of fabric.
Scales will be dyed with botanicals gathered from the Colour Me Local Dye Garden located next to Still Creek and sewn together into a large flowing fish scale dress that will clothe Water Woman.
The dress will take approximately 300 scales to create.
Her hair will be made of reeds, rushes or daylilies, woven by community members during facilitated discussion sessions about our memories of and hopes for water.
We will build Water Woman Remembers mainly out of riparian plants grown in the watershed while still being structurally sound and light enough to carry.
Her torso and arms will be woven out of water-loving willow.
Using materials grown in the watershed to make the puppet will embody the connection between the physical puppet, the bond between the community members making it, and the watershed/land that they live on now.
Carmen Rosen, an experienced giant puppet maker, will collaborate with other puppet makers, weavers and dyers to create a functional, beautiful character.
The design plan is for the puppet to be a three person carry, one person wearing stilts carrying the main body and manipulating the head, and one person manipulating each hand.
Still Moon Arts creates an annual performance with community performers at the Renfrew Ravine Ravine Moon Festival that celebrates community creativity and the Still Creek watershed. The puppet will be worn in performance at the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, enhancing the visual spectacle, and simultaneously giving us a great venue to introduce Water Woman Remembers to the community.
The Water Woman Remembers project is a poetic way to engage people in exploring their relationship with water.
It will be an embodiment of our collective relationship with water, and how it holds our memories, our love, and our grief.
In our recent volunteer appreciation event many volunteers specifically spoke of how contributing to a larger project gave people a sense of belonging to a community and a sense of purpose.
We will create a well-planned series of water conversations and art-making sessions with many groups in the community that will offer the experience of being part of and contributing to a larger project where we can:
- learn new skills working with natural materials and natural dyes
- learn from knowledge keepers about Indigenous ways of interacting with, respecting, and showing gratitude to water
- hear water stories from people of diverse cultural backgrounds
- explore the rich human relationship with water, which is central to all cultures
- remember lost streams
- remember water-related events and places that are significant to us
- imagine a healthy water future
- share our stories and our gifts of writing and imagery
- record our stories, sounds and images for inclusion in a video
- make prayers for the water
- see ourselves as water beings
- embody our relationship with water in a large communal puppet creation
- A series of water conversations, skill-sharing and experience-sharing sessions, and art-making sessions for the fish-scale pieces for Water Woman’s memory dress. Individuals’ personal reflections, stories and images will become a permanent part of the Water Woman’s remembering dress.
- Community performances featuring Water Woman Remembers that engage dozens of performers amplifying the water themes at many scales from small images on lanterns and flags to giant fabric banners rippling behind the puppet.
- Processions along urban streams that need more space to thrive and along the courses of Lost streams longing to be remembered and re-surfaced
- Community exhibits of Water Woman and video stories in local libraries, community centres, galleries and watershed conversations that arise from the exhibits.
- Cross-cultural sharing of experiences, stories, hopes and fears by community members from diverse cultural backgrounds and places of origin, which we hope will build bonds of understanding and compassion
- More connections within the community and deeper engagement with community groups
- People feeling a sense of belonging in the community and watershed
- More embodied knowledge of the importance of healthy water and watersheds as part of a healthy community
- A functional Water Woman puppet that can be used in performances with community groups
- People directly experience that our universal connection to water can rally unified community action for a healthier future
- Water Woman Remembers can become part of larger actions to support climate justice work throughout the larger community
- Gallery exhibits and watershed conversations that arise from the exhibits
Interested in learning more about this unique initiative or contributing to funding it?
Kindly connect with Clea Moray, Director of Operations & Fundraising at Still Moon Arts Society: Clea@StillMoonArts.ca