DNR to Unveil Art Made From River Trash on Earth Day
Posted: 04/12/2011

DES MOINES - Trash dredged from the East and West Nishnabotna rivers last July by hundreds of volunteers on the DNR's annual Project AWARE river cleanup event will be unveiled on Earth Day as art.

On April 22, the artwork will be on public display from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the main lobby atrium of the Wallace State Office Building, located at 502 East Ninth St. in Des Moines. Artist David Williamson and DNR staff will be available during this time to greet visitors, answer questions and share their Project AWARE experiences.

As part of a multi-year project known as "The River Gates of Project AWARE," river trash from the annual cleanup is re-engineered into a permanent exhibit at the Iowa State Fair. In addition to honoring the work of volunteers, promoting environmental stewardship and telling the story of Project AWARE, it is also functional. The exhibit's sculptures also serve as security gates for the Natural Resources building on the state fairgrounds.

Currently, two such security gates are in place and a third will be installed this summer. During the Earth Day event, a half-scale model of a wrought iron gate panel will be unveiled. Visitors will be encouraged to share input with collaborating artist David Williamson regarding design and placement of wrought iron oak leaves which are being hammered from fuel tanks salvaged from Iowa's riverbanks.

Williamson encourages participants to share feedback throughout the process of creating Project AWARE artwork. "The participants are the architects," Williamson said. "I'm just the guy with the hammer and the nails."

In addition to this model, music collaboratively written by Project AWARE volunteers and state fairgoers will be shared, and sculptures from previous years of Project AWARE, including a bronze maquette of the gates, will be on display.