Uncle Toad: Going My Way?

Like so many task-chair political activists, I sometimes feel the need to create a work of art on an issue that is of local and national importance where our environment is concerned. Though I receive many requests to donate art for free to various organizations, the invitation from Ann Payne was one I simply couldn’t refuse. Ms. Payne has been organizing an exhibition of art that will be called Reflections: Homage To Dunkard Creek.

Here is what she wrote:

“It is said that the living can freely move on only when they have helped the newly dead rest in peace. Reflections is a collaborative installation by  more than 100 artists to commemorate the lives of the 116 species who perished in Dunkard Creek during the warm days of late summer 2009. The creek literally died when a fatal combination of chemical mine wastes and low water, exacerbated by “frac” drilling water withdrawals, set off the bloom of an alien toxic algae, suffocating an estimated 18,000-22,000 animals. Forty-three mile Dunkard Creek meanders across the Pennsylvania and West Virginia state lines before it flows into the Monongahela River, recently listed as one of America’s 10 most endangered rivers. The Monongahela River supplies drinking water to 850,000 people. Water is an age-old symbol for purity, clarity, and calm. The artists participating in Reflections are united by a common body of water, the Monongahela Watershed. To honor the tragedy that befell this watershed, each artist will ‘adopt’ and memorialize one of the 116 species of animals who perished, to celebrate the life of that species with an original work of art.”

As one of 100+ participating artists, I agreed to create a work dedicated to one of the species lost in Dunkard and was assigned my ‘species’ via lottery. When the project is complete, the drawing you see above will be part of a thought-provoking installation that will extend for 99 feet. This installation will travel throughout the watershed from Fairmont, West Virginia to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (and perhaps beyond) so the larger community may experience a broad, detailed perspective through artists’ eyes on all that has vanished beneath the water that is the lifeblood of this planet. Along with Ms. Payne, I hope that this project will provoke others throughout the US and the world where corporate profiteers with their juicy bribes to residents in exchange for toxification of their properties seriously threaten our environment and all the creatures that depend on it. Here are a map and photo from the area:

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