Charlotte is known as a city of shiny buildings, fine neighborhoods and willow oaks, but this exhibition reveals it as lattice of waterways – the creeks that connect us and that we take for granted.
This exhibition at Projective Eye Gallery at UNC Charlotte Center City is just one component of KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks, the second installment of a three-year multi-disciplinary initiative. Keepingwatch.org has an interactive guide to the city’s creeks, oral histories and other facets of this project.
There’s a lot to take in. So for an orientation, view “Almost Worthless If It’s Polluted,” a short film by Ben Premeaux’s smARTlab, in the Center City lobby or on the KEEPING WATCH website.
The exhibition’s most handsome and revelatory projects are from Lauren Rosenthal. “Political/Hydrological” is a large atlas in which Rosenthal reimagines state borders based on watersheds. “Mecklenburg Creek Drawing” is a huge cut-paper map studded with video monitors; depicting only the county’s waterways, it resembles a beating heart.
“Stewardship,” a video by Marek Ranis with Tina Katsanos, combines interviews with spiritual leaders and haunting footage, shot with a drone-mounted camera, tracking a path from debris-strewn Stewart Creek to the Atlantic Ocean. At 30 minutes, “Stewardship” may tax the patience of visitors, but the persistent will find insightful observations, particularly about sin and dominion as they relate to the environment.
The building’s large display window is filled with dirty basketballs that Bill Stokes has retrieved from the Catawba River while kayaking; he’s pulled thousands of basketballs and other debris from the river. Backed by Nancy Pierce’s photographs of creeks, they make a beautiful, unnerving installation.
At the gallery, pick up the map/guide to Stacy Levy’s “Passage of Rain.” This outdoor installation, which will be in the Revolution Park neighborhood for a year, demarcates the path of rainwater from West Boulevard to Irwin Creek.
In its mission to educate, this show seems a little dry. (No pun intended. Really.) But its message is important and the power of the work grows on you; it could change the way you think and feel about Charlotte’s beleaguered creeks.
Projective Eye Gallery, UNCC Center City; 704-687-0833; through August.