The Waterville Creates! Public Art Task Group will hold three temporary public art exhibitions on view June through September in Waterville.

Three artists, Maggie Libby, Lisa Link and Jesse Salisbury, were selected to provide works based on their responses to a public call for artists’ reflections on the theme of the Kennebec River. This is the second large-scale public art project that the Public Art Task Group has overseen to advance one of the primary goals of Waterville’s Cultural Blueprint — to provide diverse encounters with art and creativity in the public realm.

“Last summer, our first Public Art Task Group project, Waterville Wheat Paste, was a resounding success,” said Shannon Haines, president and CEO of Waterville Creates!, according to a news release from the organization. “This collaborative, temporary art installation enlivened our city during the Maine International Film Festival last July and proved Waterville has a great interest in public art. We look forward to seeing the artists’ reflections on the Kennebec River and to hearing the community’s responses to their work.”

Libby’s public art project, “Voices of the River,” uses the Kennebec River theme as content for three, 12-foot willow charcoal drawings on paper. Each section will portray a river theme: a glacial and geographical view of the river’s origin, a logging and factory view (factories which were economically beneficial to the area and also polluters of the river), and current view of the river and its environment. Graphics will encourage audience participation including posing questions such as “Do you have a flood or river story you’d like to share? Did you work in any of the factories along the river? What is your favorite spot on the Kennebec? How do you envision its future?” Libby will collect these stories for the duration of the project with the intention of producing a video that will be made available at Common Street Arts and later archived for future generations. Viewers will be asked to erase the drawings with pieces of recycled Hathaway shirts, and will be asked to share their vision for the river’s future over erasures of its past. The resulting ghost drawings and overlaid visions will be installed in storefront windows until the temporary exhibition ends.

Link’s work, “Word Wrap 2018: Swimming Upstream,” is a new print series exploring the activism, history and challenges surrounding the clean-up of the Kennebec River and her installation will be sited along a section of the Quarry Road Trails near Messalonskee Stream. Link’s photo-based work combines both contemporary and historic images layered with text gathered from research and personal interviews. Link’s work focuses on political and social issues and is grounded in community collaboration. Inspired by the people past and present who are committed to dramatically improving conditions for the Kennebec River, this project honors their stories and is intended to spark discussion of environmental issues, and “swimming upstream” in the face of new challenges to our nation’s waterways.

“River Stone,” by Salisbury, is a sculptural piece created from a single, 3-ton granite glacial erratic boulder similar in shape and surface texture to stones found in rivers that have been worn smooth by water, ice and time. The approximately 6-foot-tall stone is split to create two halves of a large, oval, egg-shaped form which will create two seating spaces. The forms removed from the inside of the stone will fit together into a table that will be placed between the two seating areas. Rivers and rocks are often metaphors for time and change. Salisbury’s sculpture style mimics the effects of water and natural forces on stone, thus creating a sculptural still life of geological time. By dividing and manipulating the forms, he is making a space that people flow through and around, and thereby bringing a piece of the river into the center of town. “River Stone” will be installed in June in Castonguay Square.

Waterville Creates! will celebrate National Trails Day at Quarry Road Trails starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 2. An interactive art and science walk with Link is planned. Participants can explore her public installation of “WordWrap2018: Swimming Upstream” with nature enthusiast Serena Sanborn.

The walk will simultaneously investigate the natural world encountered on the Quarry Road Trails. Participants can create interactive photos along the trail incorporating nature elements.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required.

For more information, visit watervillecreates.org.

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