Thirsty? Most of us can just turn on the tap. While filming a documentary in Ethiopia, however, Mary Jordan experienced firsthand the global water-scarcity crisis. It led her to found Word Above the Street, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering environmental awareness through public art. Its inaugural initiative is the Water Tank Project.
Digitally reproduced artwork by such noteworthy names as Andy Goldsworthy, Maya Lin, Mickalene Thomas, Jeff Koons, and Odili Donald Odita as well as by New York public school students will wrap 100 water tanks in the five boroughs through October. The works have been printed on vinyl mesh—measuring as large as 17 by 57 feet. It’s grommeted at the ends, then tied taut around the tanks by employees of Isseks Brothers, one of the few remaining family-run businesses maintaining the city’s 17,000 water tanks.
Meanwhile, on the street, Trace the Tap, an online curriculum, offers information on potable water from biological, environmental, cultural, and economic perspectives. Jordan plans to take the Water Tank Project to other cities around the world.