Project AWARE - Riverse

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In 2004, an initiative to increase the awareness of Project AWARE through the creation of an art piece made from volunteer-collected river trash was conceived and the Art of Project AWARE was born.

This artistic element of Project AWARE is intended to help reverse the damage to Iowa's rivers while increasing an awareness of their importance through art. It provides both a literal and symbolic representation of the accomplishments of Project AWARE volunteers while bringing the attention of the general public to the condition and status of Iowa's waterways. These artworks not only promote the good work of Project AWARE volunteers, but they are a living example of reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Riverse, River Gates 2009 River Gates, 2009
The River Gates of Project AWARE, North/South Gate Maquette

Year Created: 2009
Trash collected from:
Cedar River Watershed

What is it? This maquette is a scale model of the new security gates on the west side of the Natural Resources Building at the Iowa State Fair. While all five gates on the west side of the building share similar design elements, subtle differences may be observed in the finer details. The northernmost and southernmost gates are identical, the north-center and south-center gates are identical, and the center gate is unique. This maquette represents design elements from the northern-most and southern-most set of gates.

Song Lyrics: "The River's Best"
Song Lyrics: "Old River...New"
Song Lyrics: "At the Creek"
South Arch River Gates, Riverse 2008

River Gates, 2008
The River Gates of Project AWARE, South Arch

Year Created: 2008
Trash collected from:
Winnebago, Shell Rock, and Cedar Rivers

What is it? The south gate on the west side of the Iowa DNR building at the Iowa State Fair was the first to be replaced. Installed in the fall of 2009, this gate is the first of five that will be built from trash collected on the Iowa DNR's annual river cleanup event, Project AWARE.

Song Lyrics: "Wild Ink"
Song Lyrics: "Arteries"

River Gates, Riverse 2007

River Gates, 2007
The River Gates of Project AWARE

Prototype Gate Panel
Year Created: 2007
Trash collected from: Middle and North Raccoon Rivers

What is it?
The sculpture was constructed during the first phase of a multiyear project to replace the security gates on the historically-significant Iowa DNR building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds with gates made from trash collected on Project AWARE. This sculpture was constructed as a prototype from which the rest of the gates will be built - it represents one panel of a four-panel gate.

Collaborative poem: "Prospectus"

Strongback Sculpture

Year Created: 2006
Trash collected from: Iowa and English Rivers

What is it?
Aptly named Strongback (a "strongback" is a form from which canoes are built) this sculpture pays homage to hundreds of volunteers who used dozens of canoes to haul hundreds of tons of trash from Iowa rivers. Rebar canoes built from strongback forms can be found on the sculpture, with a paddle blade emerging from the center. Work gloves cast in aluminum depict the index, middle, and ring fingers in the shape of a "W," which is the American Sign Language word for "water."

"Strongback" Structure Poster
Collaborative Poem: "Bearings"

Drop In, Riverse Drop In
Year Created: 2005
Trash collected from: Little Sioux River

What is it?
Drop In was constructed in the shape of a giant water droplet. Around its base, aluminum castings formed from electric stove burner elements remind us to keep water quality on the front burner.

"Drop In" Structure Poster
Collaborative Poem: "Current"
Riverse 2004 - Fair Catch Fair Catch
Year Created: 2004
Trash collected from: Des Moines River Watershed

What is it?
Fair Catch was constructed in the shape of a scale-model canoe paddle. Atop its handle sits a model of a stonefly, an insect associated with healthy watersheds.

"Fair Catch" Structure Poster
Collaborative Poem, "Clear"