“We Are Here” Public Art Installation at Medford’s Mystic River Celebration

kari-wwearehere72I was honored to have my proposal for a public art installation chosen to be part of the 2016 Mystic River Celebration in Medford put together by the Coalition for Arts, Culture and a Healthy Economy (CACHE) in Medford Inc. on September 24.

“We Are Here” was a temporary outdoor ecological and astronomical calendar.  Viewers were invited to stand in the center of the circle, to view all the directions the sun rises and sets at different times of the year on that riverbank in Medford, marked with labeled rocks.marchequinox-wmuskrats

Paintings and words showed seasonal events that mark the changes of the year on the Mystic River, such as the time in April and May when the Alewives crowd up the river to spawn, or in November when the hooded mergansers return from Canada to overwinter here. The little paintings were on slate collected from the mouth of the Mystic River in Chelsea and birch bark collected at its headwaters.

The directions were marked out with flotsam and jetsam, driftwood and plastic and glass bottles washed up by the river, as well as vessels filled with river water, lily pads and leaves, and decorated with yarn and pompoms representing the directions of the rising and setting sun. Cloth banners drew viewers to the site with words like “Sparkle,” “Shimmer,” and “Flow.” Some banners with arrows showed the directions “Upstream,” “Downstream,” “Headwaters” and “River’s Mouth.” Other banners proclaimed “We Are Water,” “We Are Here.” Many viewers came over to the edge of the river to see what was there, and they seemed to enjoy taking a look, some returning with their families to show them their discovery. I put out a basket of extra pieces of slate and chalk so that viewers who wanted could add their own seasonal events to the installation and several people did.


I’d like to thank the festival committee for including me in this year’s celebration, and I’d like to thank all the sponsors of CACHE and all the viewers who helped make the day magical.