What Creative Projects Will Come From All This Water?

During the past week as I saw the sand bagging & ring dikes in Bismarck, watched video clips of the Souris River overtaking Minot and then experienced my own frustration with Sunday’s deluge of rain, resulting in my own flooded yard, roads and basement.  In our region, twenty-eleven seems to be the year of WATER–in both frozen and liquid form.

Flood Museum by Barton Benes on display at the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks

I’m wondering what kind of creative projects are going to come from all this water.  When Grand Forks had the catastrophic flood in 1997 artists were quick to find meaning, document, gather and recycle refuse into unique works of art.

This piece, Flood Museum was commissioned by the North Dakota Museum of Art (NDMOA) as a collaborative work between the artist and the community after the 1997 flood of the Red River.  Area residents were asked to contribute memory laden objects from the flood. Photos taken by NDMOA. 

This is just one example of a creative project that can result from an environmental disaster.  With this project, the North Dakota Museum of Art gave their flood revenged community of Grand Forks a voice and used the talents of an artist to pull it together into a meaningful documentary artwork.

Detail of the artwork above.

The past month has given us incredible flood photos by amateurs and professionals that deserve attention– some are are more than just documentation.  The shapes and forms of the levies and dikes are fascinating sculptural forms in their own right. Residents of flooded neighborhoods create signs and leave behind items that provide humor, an attempt to make light of the situation.

When the floods recede there will be lots of clean-up. But with that clean up we will encounter the “stuff-of-life” and I hope that the artists will once again come up with creative ways to bring communities together to share, process, rethink and get beyond the devastation to rebuild their communities.

There are literally thousands of ND flood images on the Internet, search for them.  Look for those that make an impression–make you think, laugh or cry–these are special. Here is one of my favorite flood images–unbelievable–truly destined to be a classic ND image!

Deer pushed onto porch by flooding in Apple Valley (near Minot).