the memory of water

It was nearly a decade ago in the south of France when a Dutchman poured me a glass of water from a pitcher emblazoned with the word love written in a dozen different languages. He told me that water changes when exposed to positive words and thoughts; it becomes energized and tastes better when energized. I never heard this before or since, but when Philip Bewley, curator at DZINE Gallery, asked me to participate in an exhibition about water, I immediately knew this was the concept I would explore.

The Memory of Water (Chopin: The Farewell Song)  •12 x 12 x 2"D•Acrylic, acrylic glass, mirror tile, grease marker, compressed charcoal, pencil, and resin on wood panel

The Memory of Water (Chopin: The Farewell Song) •12 x 12 x 2"D•Acrylic, acrylic glass, mirror tile, grease marker, compressed charcoal, pencil, and resin on wood panel

The Dutchman was right: water indeed has memory. It receives and makes an imprint of any outside influence that occurs in the space that surrounds. In the 1990s, the Japanese scientist and author Masaru Emoto exposed water to various elements and captured the results with a specialized technique of high speed photography he developed. His experiments hypothesized water has both memory and a consciousness capable of “changing its expression” when exposed to different music, photographs, and language. Water exposed to positive factors such as classical music or words of gratitude result in aesthetically pleasing patterns, while negative elements like death metal and insults generate unattractive arrangements.

This series of paintings on mirrors is based on Dr. Emoto’s photographs and were created for the exhibition Water Music at DZINE Gallery in San Francisco (on view through November 2019). The exhibition’s title is a reference to orchestral compositions by the composer Handel, and the paintings are based on images of water’s molecular response to music.

Water is the most powerful solvent on Earth, yet it is also odorless, colorless, and tasteless. I wanted the paintings to feel like that: durable yet delicate. Each artwork is made of corresponding layers of paintings on acrylic glass stacked on a mirror tile, mounted on a wood panel, and sealed with epoxy resin. The materials create depth, and the paintings appear very light when in reality they are quite heavy. The exposed mirror reflects its surroundings; the painting is constantly changing even after it has left my studio. For example, the blue in several of the photographs is the reflection of the blue sky when the artwork was photographed outside. Painting on mirrors is challenging, but the artwork is much more dynamic because of it.

I am currently finishing this series and working on mixed media paintings that function as both sculpture and painting. I will be showing these new series October 12th & 13th at Fall Open Studios.