Engineering students create art as part of “Moving Water” project

In Engineering Education, News

Roughly 100 students from the art and engineering departments at UF met Wednesday to

participate in a ritualistic performance dedicating the newly installed art piece “Moving Water.”

Gathering on the Plaza of the Americas, nearly every participant grasped a vessel filled with water. Each individual had collected the water from a location of personal significance.

Jesenia Lopez, a 21-year-old UF painting senior, had crafted her vessel from clay. Her water was from a duck pond she and her boyfriend spend time at near North Florida Regional Medical Center, she said.

Those gathered were split into four separate groups, each bearing the name one of the four cardinal directions. Each group portrayed a symbolic marker.

The north painted a blue stripe on the upper arm. The east carried leaves. The south painted blue waves under the eye. The west wore green bracelets made of yarn.

Each group gathered, encircling Xavier Cortada of Miami, who was the guest artist for the Creative B term at UF and created the “Moving Water” project.

Afterward each group “flowed” in the direction of its compass point, meeting at the alligator statue on the north side of the University Auditorium.

The performance was accompanied by music from the Century Tower carillon.

Leaving the statue, they walked to the north wall of the Computer Science and Engineering Building where the artwork hung.

One by one, those participating in the ceremony placed their vessels of water on shelves installed just below the piece, pledging to protect the waters of Florida.

Measuring 32 feet by four feet and constructed of 514 painted ceramic tiles, “Moving Water” conveys images of the Panama Canal as well as artificial canals and other bodies of water in Florida, Cortada said.

The artwork intrinsically connects the impact of the canal’s construction on the Panamanian landscape with the continuing alteration and manipulation of Florida’s waterways, Cortada said.

UF’s pending centennial celebration of the Panama Canal influenced the work, Cortada said.

One of Cortada’s goals in working with students from the Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering was for them to consider how their future actions as engineers can significantly impact the land and its ecosystem.

He said he would like the students to “fall in love with the eco side” of the world in which they live and plan to shape.

“It is often the side we dismiss,” he added.

Lucinda Lavelli, dean of the College of the Arts, said the artwork “will bring such life into that sort of barren place that was also getting defaced with graffiti.”

Funds for the “Moving Water” project came from money set aside by the Provost Office for Creative B, she said. No state dollars were used.

In total, $40,400 was spent on the “Moving Water” project.

The artwork will remain in place for at least a year, Lavelli said.

Permanent installation will be determined by the university’s lakes, vegetation and landscaping committee, she added.

“You always have an opinion with public art. Some people like it, some don’t, but very few are indifferent,” Lavelli said.

“I don’t know that everybody will love this, but it is an educational, aesthetic addition to the campus.”