Water Will Remove the ‘Dust in their Veins’

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As Americans, we sometimes take for granted our access to water. Turning on a faucet or walking to the store to buy a bottle of water is simple. The act of spending most of our day walking, gathering, and carrying forty pounds of water is unimaginable.

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As Americans, we sometimes take for granted our access to water. Turning on a faucet or walking to the store to buy a bottle of water is simple. The act of spending most of our day walking, gathering, and carrying forty pounds of water is unimaginable. But it happens to many women and girls around the world. Two years ago, Chicago artist Candace Hunter learned of this startling this grueling task when she applied to participate in a Water Rights art exhibition hosted by the University of Minnesota. Although Hunter didn’t take part in Minnesota art show, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

On March 22, Hunter revealed “Dust in their Veins” – an art exhibition she created to bring attention to water rights and water access. The exhibit runs March 22 - April 27 at 1823 S. Halsted St. The opening coincided with World Water Day – a day conceived at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. World Water Day seeks to bring attention to the importance of freshwater, and advocacy for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

“Dust in their Veins” features a series of female torsos exemplifying creative and the sometimes shocking realties when communities don’t have access to water. The unfortunate realty is that women and girls are most affected by this circumstance. Hunter’s use of only torsos is an attempt to bring attention to the fact that policy makers and people of influence are not part of this group. “The women who are most involved in water scarcity are women who are not invited to UN meetings. They are not flown [around the world] to talk about their plight. They have no voice. The torsos are lifeless because those women don’t have the ability to pick themselves up and move somewhere else where it’s more convenient. So, this torso image has remained the static image for the show,” says Hunter.

The torsos in the show are both one dimensional and three dimensional works of art. Viewers are drawn in by items adorning some of the pieces. Empty water bottles, plastic bottles filled with sand, and images of women carrying large containers of water on their heads are integrated into these pieces. Blank torsos are also a part of the exhibit. A sign above simply asks, “Why Are These Girls Undressed?” A panel of paper hangs below the sign directing viewers to write their response. One person writes that the torsos are blank because seven days without water, one will die. There are multiple responses are written on the panel. I encourage people to go out and view “Dust in their Veins”, and be inspired to write…. Be inspired to act.

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