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Murals etc
Murals and Installations

Jordan Weber, New Forest,Ancient Thrones,  2024. Weber’s sculpture, in the newly designed East Canfield Art Park in Detroit, "was unveiled in a procession led by West African drummers. The sculpture melds crowns worn by two African queens — Ranavalona III of 19th-century Madagascar, who led her kingdom’s resistance to French colonizers before being exiled, and Idia of Benin, whose military derring-do during her son’s reign in the 16th century helped fend off tribal invaders." 

Located a few blocks from a large Jeep assembly factory, the sculpture is equipped with air pollution tracking devices--"real-time air monitor readings indicated through LED colored lights signaling good to hazardous using the EPA’s color system."  Since the devices went in, complaints of paint fumes and other noxious odors have dropped significantly. 

Weber's focus is on "helping communities of color heal from the effects of environmental and social ills, part of a growing movement called regenerative art, which seeks to revitalize links between communities and their ecosystems." The completed installation will include a raised walkway for forest bathing amid pollution-absorbing conifers.

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Paolo Fanciulli, founder, and Giorgio Butini, Emily Young, et al, sculptors, La Casa dei Peschi​, Talamone, Italy, 2020. In desperate protest against illegal trawling for fish which destroys the coastal marine ecosystem, especially the sea grass habitat, Fanciulli, a Tuscan fisherman, worked with Greenpeace and the local environmental protection agency to drop concrete blocks in the area as a physical barrier for the nets.  That evolved into the idea of an "underwater museum," with sculptures in Carrara marble, all donated, for a "Fish Home."  The ecosystem is healing and sea creatures of all kinds, from algae and sea grass to turtles and dolphins, are returning.  Acquaby Butini, and Young Guardian, by Young.

Youtube video 

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Pam Longobardi, Anchor (Our Albatross) of steel and plastic trash, 2017, Signal Flags of Climate Change, of climate migrants' discarded life vests, 2018. This art activist's Drifters Project (2006-present) "mobilizes citizens, students, scientists, filmmakers and indigenous communities in labor-intensive cleaning of sea caves, beaches and coastlines worldwide."  She then creates artworks from the recovered plastic trash to draw attention to the environmental crisis, marine plastic pollution, and its effects on humanity and all life. 

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Tammy West, Keep it Together, 2021, and Stay Put, 2017, "site-specific environmental art that focuses on our collective climate grief."

Keep It Together "conceptually wills climate change and the drought to end by literally tying cracked earth back together. I wanted this piece to convey the desperate situation that we are in by mimicking surgical sutures or stitches with red string and nails. If we must resort to tying our world back together, we have nothing."  

Stay Put --"wishing the glacier to stay put and not melt away." Her first work of the series, it straps down part of the Mydalsjokull glacier in Iceland, working with a glaciologist from the Haskell Island Institute of Earth Science. 

I like the dark humor in the titles and concepts--the childishly ineffectual attempts to "fix" a massive global problem with everyday hardware items.

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Fused Together, 2023-present, partnership program between Hilltop Artists and Communities for a Healthy Bay, facilitated at local libraries by glass artists Dick Weiss and Kait Rhoads (see her work below). "Together with you, we are creating public art that will be installed across Tacoma to celebrate marine life and help raise awareness about the impacts of pollution." In 2024, images of these windows will also be installed on two water quality testing utility boxes in Tacoma.The free community workshops are still going on: "learn about local marine life and preserving the waters of the Puget Sound, while creating your own fused glass tile and contributing to a collaborative art project in a family-friendly activity suitable for ages 8 and older."

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Kait Rhoads, Salish Nettles, 2018glass, copper wire, and stainless steel.  Hanging high in the Pacific Seas Aquarium atrium at the Pt. Defiance Zoo, the three giant luminous orange glass jellyfish float in shapes that portray their perpetual opening and shutting movements. The glass pieces were blown and assembled with Hilltop Artist and broader community help. The result is a "beauty that everyone owns, just like the ocean that inspired the art in the first place. My hope is to spread the message of ocean ecology and to create a community connection to the sculpture, as well as to the aquarium, Puget Sound and the entire ocean.”

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Hagopianarts (female-led arts initiative in Philadelphia), Eco Mural Project, 2020.  "The Eco Mural Project is a series of ecologically-themed public art pieces that have two goals: to beautify blank walls and educate the public about environmental degradation. These pieces are diligently researched and exquisitely detailed, resulting in one-of-a-kind pieces that transport viewers into an otherwise inaccessible environment. Each mural contains a QR code that can be scanned by any smartphone and links directly back to our site. There, we have a short write-up about each ecosystem and the issues that they face with links to environmental organizations."  What a great idea!

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Cannupa Hanska Luger, Mirror Shield Project for Water Protectors at Standing Rock ND,2016. Indigenous artist and activist Luger created "a tutorial video shared on social media inviting People from across the Nation to create mirrored shields of accessible and affordable materials for use in onsite frontline actions (against rubber bullets and water cannon assaults) and send them to the Water Protectors. The project began out of urgency when in the summer of 2016 he learned that the water of his father’s homelands on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation was under threat from the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Inspired by images of women holding mirrors up to riot police in the Ukraine, the intention is to create a reflective mirror not only for a shield of protection, so that an oppressor may cause less harm, but to also utilize the oppressors' image to reflect their own oppressive violent force back to them, to remind them that we are all human, regardless of the side of the line we are on, to force the oppressor to see themselves and the harm they are causing."

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Cannupa Hanska Luger, This is Not a Snake/The One Who Checks and the One Who Balances, 2020.  Ceramic, fiber, steel, oil drums, concertina wire, ammunition cans, trash, found objects.  "A monumental sculptural installation unfurling a grotesquely poignant winding tapestry of waste; combining the leftovers of extractive industry and capitalist exports with handcrafted ceramic, steel and fiber elements to represent industrial exploitation of Indigenous land and its minerals."  The guardian figures of an imagined indigenous future are part of Luger's New Myth ethos, blending tribal, sci-fi, and handcraft elements: "gauntlets made from sports equipment and industrial felt; giant cloth headdresses that evoke futuristic college-football mascots; secondhand afghans fashioned into full-body outfits."

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Andrew Boyd and Gan Golan, The Climate Ribbon Tree, 2015, a "massive public art installation and ritual space." Each person wrote their answer to the question "What do you love and hope to never lose to climate chaos?" on a ribbon and tied it to a Tree of Life structure at the Paris COP21 meeting.  The idea originated in 2014 at the People’s Climate March in New York City and has been replicated multiple times around the world. Others can take a stranger's ribbon in solidarity, becoming a kind of guardian of that person's hopes and dreams.

"Collectively, these ribbons compose a kind of 'people’s treaty,' inspired in part by Northeastern Native American quahog and whelk shell wampum belts that signify the mutual exchange of trust that takes place when commitments are made between peoples." 

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Christine and Margaret Wertheim, Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project, 2005-present. "At a time when living reefs are dying from heat exhaustion and our oceans are awash in plastic, the Crochet Coral Reef offers a tender impassioned response." This is a crafty/mathematical "retort to climate change, a one-stitch-at-a-time meditation on the Anthropocene," as well as a "rejoinder to a culture of doom, quietly asserting, in this 'time of response-ability,' a message of hope--what we humans can do when we work together."  The irrepressible bursts of color and growth also illustrate hyperbolic geometry (negative curvature) found in nature.

 In addition to the Core Collection of reefs which has been exhibited internationally beginning with the Venice Biennale 2019, the Wertheims work with communities around the world to "enable citizens to crochet their own local reefs." As of 2023, fifty Satellite Reefs have been constructed, engaging thousands of people. 

TED Talk with Margaret Wertheim--Watch on YouTube 

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Anna Teresa Fernandez, On the Horizon, 2021. Installation of 16 6-ft. tubes filled with seawater at Ocean Beach, CA.  (A light is installed at the base, and sea life has been filtered out of the water) 

"Current projections show sea levels rising 6 feet by the year 2100, which the tubes’ installation at the water line demonstrated with haunting precision.  You can pull up all the stats and figures (about climate change) and you go numb. The difference between looking out here and walking through the tubes and seeing your height in relation to the 6 feet of water that resides in these tubes is a moment of ‘Oh wow, that’s what it’s going to be.’” (Thanks to Mary Lyverse for this suggestion!) 

Watch on Vimeo

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Sam Van Aken, The Open Orchard, Governor Island Park, NY, 2022.  "A monumental living land artwork tak­ing the form of a pub­lic orchard com­pris­ing 102 fruit trees, The Open Orchard will act as a liv­ing archive for antique and heir­loom fruit vari­eties that were grown in and around New York City in the past 400 years but have most­ly dis­ap­peared due to cli­mate change and the indus­tri­al­iza­tion of agri­cul­ture. Using a unique graft­ing process, Van Aken com­bines mul­ti­ple fruit vari­eties into a sin­gle tree — so dif­fer­ent vari­eties grow along­side one anoth­er and the trees blos­som in a rain­bow of white, pink, and crim­son. Fruit trees can­not be saved in seed banks and must be grown as liv­ing trees to be pre­served, so this dream orchard will pre­serve these fruits for future gen­er­a­tions, pro­vid­ing a road map for inno­v­a­tive tech­niques to main­tain vital bio­di­ver­si­ty in the face of a chang­ing climate. Near­ly 100 addi­tion­al trees will be donat­ed and plant­ed in com­mu­ni­ty gar­dens through­out the five bor­oughs."

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Dustin Yellin, 10 Parts, 2015, 20 ft glasswork installation with multimedia 3-d collages made of snippets of printed material and other found objects. The apocalptic vision "bursting with wild, enigmatic stories, echoes Hieronymus Bosch, one of Yellin's primary influences.  In the final, 10th part of the work "a feverish tumble of figures and objects appear to fall over the edge of the world."  In loving detail, today’s chaotic world of environmental collapse due to overexploitation is on display. Yellin's Brooklyn studio was flooded by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  "I’ve been thinking about climate change for as long as I can remember,  I think the most pressing issue is our inability as a species to get along, our inability to work together."

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Tacoma artists (clockwise) Kate Thun, Angela Larson, Nori Kimura, Saiyare Refaei and Gloria Joy Kazuko Muhammed, If it Hits the Ground, it Hits the Sound, murals on sidewalks near storm drain catch basins, 2023. This is a City of Tacoma Environmental Services program to raise awareness of stormwater pollution.  (You can help!) Untreated water from our driveways, streets and sidewalks can damage the ecosystem in the Sound. The slogan shows up in five languages, English, Khmer, Vietnamese, Spanish, and Twulshootseed, and environmentally friendly paint was used in a program to beautify as well as educate.

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Project director Kal Barteski and various artists, SEAWALLS project "Artists for Oceans," Churchill, Manitoba, 2017. 18 murals were created by artists from around the world to focus on environmental issues like the plight of the polar bear, ocean health, and remote, vulnerable communities like Churchill, "polar bear capital of the world" (a tourist town that "does an amazing job of responsible tourism.") On left, Pat Perry, Mayday, right, DULK (Antonio Segura), The Last Winter, center, Aaron Li-Hill, Untitled.

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Steve McPherson, Correlation, 2016, made of plastic debris from the North Kent Coast. "While it is impossible to ignore the environmental concerns present in his work, he draws analogies with his practice akin to the role of archaeologist/collector/and paradoxical treasure hunter. In Correlation, he uses the journey of Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days as the framework to arrange the piece. The colors, here, correspond to the mean average yearly low and high temperatures of each city he visits on his journey." 

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Building facades by Dutch solar panel startups ZigZag Solar, Solar Visuals, Kameloen Solar, Solarix, 2018 to present. “The sun sees solar modules, we see art.”  “Regular blue and black PV cells are not that attractive. These facades generate electricity, but they are also beautiful.” Their special designs (a constructive back, a layer with PV cells, then a print, and finally a glass plate) and angled placements make them as effective as roof-mounted panels and sometimes as much as 25% more effective!  (Thanks to Barbara Menne for this entry idea!)

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River Meschi, Mother of Waters sculpture and sand installation, 2023, Mother of Waters, and Tlaloc Tree of Life,(Aztec rain god) giclee art prints. 

Featured visual artist for this year's Tacoma Ocean Fest, she uses Tibetan Buddhist, Mexican, Indian, and her own Slavic ancestral mythology and symbolism for her works.  In the artist's words, "I drew Mount Tahoma as a woman, feeding her watershed with rain and rivers that flow out to the ocean in a timeless cycle.  This is inspired by the Latvian concept of maete, or sacred mothers who birth different aspects of the world around us.  The sand drawing references a traditional Slavic practice in which women bless a space with symbols drawn with sand on the floor.  Sand drawings celebrate the temporary, and are ultimately swept up and returned to the ocean with gratitude."  (The deinstallation Ocean Sand Painting Party will be at 7pm Thursday July 20)

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Susan Beech, Wildflowers, paper, 2023.  Made to illustrate an article in the Nature Conservancy Magazine, Summer 2023, "Bloom and Bust: in Wyoming, warmer springs could spell trouble for flowering plants and the wildlife that depend on the precise timing of their blossoms and berries," by Kirsten Weir.  The study showed that the first flowers of spring are now blossoming an average of 17 days sooner than they had in the 1970s because of a 3.6 degree rise in temperatures. "The changing bloom cycles in Grand Teton could create an ecological mismatch for the wildlife that have adapted to depend on those plants. Plants change their flowering dates in response to the climate, but many species of insects and birds time their emergence or migration to the day length. That discrepancy could affect wildlife's survival."

This paper artist from the UK uses crepe paper dyed with tea or painted with powder paints to create her astonishingly delicate and lifelike replicas.  She sees her paper flowers as more sustainable than the fresh flower industry, with its vast use of pesticides, water, and transport.

Watch her work on YouTube

(Thanks to my sister Mary Lyverse for suggesting this artist!)

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Leandro Erlich, Order of Importance, sand sculpture installation, Miami Beach, 2019.  66 life-size sand replicas of cars and trucks in a traffic jam line up along the ocean front, left to slowly degrade as a kind of relic, a reminder of our fragility and the rising sea level.  The Argentinian conceptual artist comments, "the climate crisis has become an objective problem that requires immediate solutions. As an artist, I am in a constant struggle to make people aware of this reality, in particular, the idea that we cannot shrink away from our responsibilities to protect the planet."

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Penelope Davis, Sea Change, 2017, installation of silicon casts. This Australian artist's response to a jellyfish bloom she saw along the Melbourne coastline, "Jellyfish are a great metaphor for everything going wrong today. They’re beautiful and beguiling but they’re harbingers of doom, a completely malevolent presence.  They proliferate in large numbers in places where other species can’t survive – in warmer, highly acidic, and polluted waters. They create their own ecosystems by altering the nutrients in their environment, which makes it hard for other organisms to survive. In effect, they represent the last ones standing after everything else is gone." 

Creating molds of throwaway plastic items out of floppy, translucent silicon, she then constructed 53 jellyfish sculptures to hang in their own kind of bloom.  "Although beautiful and ethereal from a distance, they seemed menacing, other worldly, and industrial upon closer inspection. Constructed with the detritus of human consumption, Sea Change calls attention to the human behaviors that have led to the climate crisis in the first place." 

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Klaus Littmann, For Forest:the Unending Attraction of Nature,September-October 2019. A temporary art intervention composed of 300 mature native trees planted inside Worthersee Stadium, Klagenfurt, Austria.  Max Peintner's drawing of 1971, The Unending Attraction of Nature, (upper left), which presents a forest as a mere exhibition object, provided his inspiration for the project.
"The installation was a clever play on our emotions when faced with what should be a familiar sight, placed in an entirely different context." It challenges our perception of the relationship between nature and humankind in the Anthropocene, serving as a memorial or warning, for "one day, we might have to admire the remnants of nature in specially assigned spaces, as is already the case with zoo animals."

After the exhibit, the trees were re-planted in a plot near the stadium with an interpretive center.

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SaRX 404, Conditional Love, street art, 2021. (location unknown) "In a week where the oceans were literally burning its becoming more and more evident that parents would do almost anything for their kids except reduce their carbon footprint."

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Vincent J.F. Huang, Polar Bear Hamburger,  2014.  Taiwanese eco artist notable for his collaboration with the country of Tuvalu, (forecast to be the first nation to disappear due to sea level rise), and his selection as their official delegate at COP18. He caught media attention earlier due to his guerrilla-style artworks and urban installations around the world. Huang uses black humor to contemplate the consequences of human consumption and the dangers of climate change.  A student's reflections:

"Human society is killing NATURE. The burger represents us as humans industrializing the world and using up our NATURAL resources and the polar bear represents the wildlife of the Earth. The bear has no choice and is sandwiched by our need to industrialize and globalize. He is being weighed down by our poor choices." 

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Benjamin Von Wong, The Giant Plastic Tap 2022. "Turn off the Giant Plastic Tap" is a global movement by this Canadian artist & activist to reduce the production of single-use plastics. "Single-use plastic consumption has gone up by 250-300% during the pandemic. We're incapable of processing all the plastic that we produce so we need to go back to the source and stop producing so much in the first place." Three stories tall, the work depicts a faucet pouring a river of plastic trash (gathered from the slums of Kibera in Nairobi) to the ground. The installation was constructed in Nairobi at the time of the UN gathering there to sign a global plastics resolution, but has been photographed on multiple other sites.  

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Jason DeCaires Taylor, The Rising Tide, 2015 Thames River, London. Loosely based on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, shire horses whose heads have been replaced with oil well pumps bear two young riders evoking "hope for future change," and two older riders in suits showing attitudes of "denial or ambivalence." (The work is visible from the Houses of Parliament--"I think we really need to start holding people accountable for what they are doing"). The ensemble appears and disappears with the river's tides. Taylor's many underwater museums and sculpture parks around the globe get over half a million visitors per year. (See Crossing the Rubicon from Museo Atlantico, Lanzarote, Spain below) Using low carbon, PH neutral materials designed to be naturally colonized, they create a habitat for marine life and help keep divers away from fragile reef areas, while exploring themes of the climate emergency and the regenerative powers of nature.  

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Agnes Denes, Wheatfield: a Confrontation, Battery Park Landfill,Downtown Manhattan,1982. Considered "one of the most significant public artworks in New York history," this 2-acre field of wheat was planted and harvested in the landfill from the construction of the World Trade Towers--an "experiment in urban farming that was a solid 30 years ahead of its time."  She said the location was a "meaningful attack” on the divide between rich and poor, between the pastoral and the technocratic, and how people embrace progress. Lately, in A Forest for New York, Denes is planting more than 100K trees atop a landfill in Queens. 

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Wangechi Mutu, In Two Canoe, 2022. 15-ft. green patinated bronze sculpture at Storm King Sculpture Park, NY. The huge fantastical tree-women posed both in and out of the boat blend mangrove and human, land and water. This Kenyan artist's work explores the natural world and "a future where humans have reconnected with the environment, where human and non-human elements merge and create a greater force..."  Mangrove trees can be seen as symbols of flexibility and resilience, migration and connection.

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Olga Ziemska, Listen, 2003. Outdoor installation, locally reclaimed birch and plaster cast hands, at the Center of Polish Sculpture, Oronsko. “Nature is defined as anything that’s in our surrounding environment including rocks, trees, plants, and animals, but excluding humans and human creation. This definition is teaching the next generation something that is actually about a massive separation and fragmentation. I think that needs to be relooked at, redefined and corrected.”   

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Carrie Ziegler, Plastic Whale, 2012.  Collaborative sculpture made of plastic trash, commissioned by Thurston County Public Works. Ziegler created this project when the plastic bag ban was being debated.  Gathering materials (including over 10K plastic bags) with the efforts of over 900 school kids and various community groups, she formed this life-size structure which was then part of the Procession of the Species Parade in Olympia.  Ziegler is currently very active with the Thurston Climate Action Team as an artist and community engagement leader. 

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Alejandro Durán, "Washed Up" Project, 2010-, Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, Mexico.  Despite being a protected area, global plastic trash washes up on Sian Ka'an's shores like everywhere else.  Duran began to collect and color-sort the plastic, then use it create evocative temporary arrangements within the natural setting . After disassembly, the items are reused for environmental art workshops.  Left: Algas (Algae), 2013.  Right: Brotes (Shoots), 2014.

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Britt Freda, Vashon Audubon Bird Mural, 2020, Vashon Island, retaining wall outside the Vashon Center for the Arts. Colorful and imaginative (is that Klimt style?) renderings of local birds endangered by climate change were painted on this 10ft wall. Just beyond it is a restored meadow and wetland with aspen groves.   

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Terry Tempest Williams, Ben Roth, and Felicia Resor, Council of Pronghorn, 2011, St. John the Divine, NYC. Accompanying poem (see in Poetry section)

Seen as a circle of witnesses to environmental destruction, 23 pronghorn antelope skulls stand in a circle (for the 23 counties of WY), on weathered ranch fenceposts, secured to iron bases repurposed from the gas fields. "The fate of the pronghorn is our own, holding us accountable for what has been taken and for the beauty that remains. They tell the story of fracking in the American West, of a boom-and-bust economy and contaminated water…the costs of a fossil fuel economy.” (Williams)  The sight of many pronghorn trapped and dying in the oil reservations of WY condemned human greed and cruelty. The installation was first set up in Jackson Hole as a “disturbance,” then was invited to St. John the Divine where "its dignity and stark beauty still haunts and inspires." 

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Ruben Orozco, Bihar,2021. The title means "tomorrow" in Basque.  Under cover of darkness, Orozco installed a hyperrealist fiberglass sculpture of a girl in the River Nervion in Bilbao, Spain.  The girl's face is submerged during high tides, leading to questions about future rising water levels and sustainability.

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