“TOO SHALLOW FOR DIVING: the weight of water”

an art exhibition at the Weston Art Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio
curated by Christopher Hoeting and Carolyn Speranza

The Too Shallow for Diving exhibition series began with a survey show subtitled “The 21st Century is Treading Water” at the American Jewish Museum in Pittsburgh. Too Shallow for Diving began with my love for the beauty and aesthetics of water as well as an urgency to appreciate the role water plays in our era of global warming. I am struck by the seriousness with which we must regard water—regionally, nationally and globally, if we are to continue life as we know it on the “blue planet.” These words may surprise some readers who, like many of us, have taken the availability of clean air and water for granted.

Too Shallow for Diving brings the age-old conflict between man and nature to contemporary art through an examination of our relationship with water. With a mix of poetry, humor, politics, and environmental discourse, the artists bring our attention to the weight that water bears not only on our everyday concerns but also to the future of our planet. The Ohio River Basin plays a lead role in this exhibition, connecting to waterways both north and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.

Each of the artists in the exhibition has extensive experience working with environmental subject matter and, as a group, has been selected as a snapshot of a blossoming community of activists who work to bring global issues closer to home. The exhibition seeks to shine a light on our region’s water as we sit on top of the largest freshwater reserve on the globe. Thus, we bear a great responsibility to sustain the future of our planet.

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Since the advent of the industrial age, human impact on the environment and depletion of the earth’s resources have never been more apparent than during the past decade. It’s only in the 21st century that the effects of global warming have become undeniable and are now part of public discourse. While volumes have been said about fossil fuel shortages, until very recently, issues about water have been rarely mentioned; water is one of those resources that we take for granted. In addition to pollution, loss of aquatic species, and the demise of coral reefs, there are even bigger problems on the horizon.

Too Shallow for Diving is both profoundly personal and global in its implications. It was from my father that I learned about the weight of water. Quite literally, and with the mind of a physicist, he taught me to observe the curve in each wave as I learned the safest angle from which to dive into the roughest part of the ocean. At the same time and at the same place, Assateague Island, my mother shared the sanctity she found in water. While she read book after book, she listened to the rhyme of the waves and watched the small birds and tiny crabs do their dance of existence at the edge of the surf. Many years later, I read a passage of Rachel Carson’s that brought these birds, the sanderlings, to life for listeners at my mother’s funeral. Both Paul D. and Ada P. Speranza died just over a year ago. I dedicate this exhibition to them.

Paul D. and Ada P. Speranza, circa 1960

Paul D. and Ada P. Speranza, circa 1960

Carolyn Speranza
April 2015

Press for the exhibition:
The Weight of Water in Dayton City Paper
Numediacy, McCombs in River City News

Interview with co-curator, Chris Hoeting
2Shallow4Diving_WOW_press release

Exhibition Checklist: 2Shallow4DivingWow_checklist

Weston Gallery’s Online Archive for this exhibition: http://www.cincinnatiarts.org/weston-art-gallery/exhibitions/detail/too-shallow-for-diving-the-weight-of-water

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