This talk focuses on reading a series of recent community activist art practices as transformational pedagogical approaches to repairing watersheds. As Dorothy Christian and Rita Wong argue in Downstream: Reimagining Water (2017) we are living in a watershed moment in which we not only need to learn about water, but need to learn with water. The publication arose out of a series of workshops in which they brought together First Nations and ally artists and activists across Canada to offer models of different embodied movement-oriented water practices. The “lessons” offered in Downstream run parallel to many others, including those by Ensayos, a collective formed in 2010 that cultivates collaborative art and science projects to transform political ecologies of Tierra del Fuego, Chile; and Mary Mattingly's community-based works like Swale and Public Water, highlighting major watershed-related projects across and surrounding New York City. These projects, and many more, stream together important teachers and their methods of embodied learning as they apply to water’s meandering energies: how wild watersheds keep landscapes hydrated, aquifers full, soil enriched, shorelines absorbent, and (most importantly) communities in closer relation to environmental transformation. These teachers consider water also as kin and teacher. They are focused not only on understanding watersheds, but (re)learning from them, developing modes of apprenticeship, and reviving indigenous and place-based models to pass on to others. In sum, these practices create spaces of dialogue and enquiry that filter and percolate water's ways of relating, much as watersheds do. Ultimately, I argue for the importance of these types of art activism in developing fluid mindsets – a renewal of emotional, ecological, and political intercultural learning approaches that we need to save our waters.

Jaimey Hamilton Faris is Associate Professor of Critical Theory and Contemporary Art History and affiliate faculty in Pacific Islands Studies, the Institute for Sustainability and Resilience, and International Cultural Studies at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa. She edited Almanac for the Beyond (2019), a volume of experimental eco-criticism and curated Inundation: Art and Climate Change in the Pacific (2021). Her recent writing on contemporary environmental art includes “Gestures of Survivance: Angela Tiatia’s Lick and Contemporary Environmental Performance Art in Oceania” in Pacific Arts Journal (2021) and “Interfacing in the Oceans Weave” for TBA21’s Oceans Rising volume (2021). Her current book project argues for the importance of hydrofeminist art practices in transforming climate change imaginaries.

The Ecologies of Care 2022 lecture series is organized by Elke Krasny at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in collaboration with Urška Jurman at the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory in Ljubljana, Inês Moreira at Lab2PT – EAAD at the University of Minho, and Fluid Circulations, curated by Nada Rosa Schroer and Nina Paszkowski in Cologne.