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Water Writes Toggle

Water Writes is an international series of collaborative murals about critical water issues.

Klamath Justice Coalition Water Writes Trailer, 2012

“Ola ka Wai, Ola ka Honua” Water Writes Honolulu, HI 2011

The theme of water connects participating communities and documents current local and international water crises.

Through our collective creative process, we engage youth, artists, organizers, and environmental activists to create imagery which reflects the relationship between the people and the water of each area. Community members are invited to a public paint day and able to participate in bringing these ideas into reality. The final murals are accessible to view by the public and also to communities across the world through video documentation and the Internet. We hope to spark discussions and cross collaboration between the participating cities and water warriors across the world.

Through painting with some of the communities most affected by water rights issues, the Estria Foundation shares its artistic techniques to assist ongoing grassroots struggles, create a global platform to raise awareness, and inspire a movement.

WATER WRITES Mural Series

Click on each city to read more, and see videos and photographs.

  • Los Angeles, California – KIPP LA Prep Middle School in Boyle Heights in collaboration with an 8th grade science class. This mural discusses ancient Chumash creation stories, Aztec mythology of the rain and the rivers, and images painted by youth of their experiences with water. Pipelines and plastic bottles symbolize the privatization and commodification of water.
  • Oakland, California – Broadway @ 21st Street in Downtown a collaboration with local youth programs that create urban arts and urban gardens. The mural portrays everyday ways that young people in Oakland are choosing healthy alternatives and decisions that protect and conserve water.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii – Kalihi Community near the Honolulu Community College. This mural shows the centuries old methods of water usage in Hawaii. Queen Lili’uokalani is seated at the center, her royal sash turns into a waterfall portraying her efforts to ensure that the water of the islands would remain a public trust.
  • Gaza Strip, Palestine - In collaboration with the Breaking the Silence Murals and Art Project at the site of 8 Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance Water Filtration Centers. Murals were painted at schools, kindergartens, and youth centers portraying the images drawn by children about the water conditions under occupation.
  • Palawan, Philippines – Located at the University of Palawan this mural documents the impacts on the Philippines of deforestation and mining. The images of typhoons, floods and landslides represent man made collimates that have increased as foreign companies pull more and more from the resource rich islands. The images of Palawan reflect the community pulling together to defend their rain forests and create new ways of living sustainably with nature, rather than selling it off.
  • Usulután, El Salvador – In collaboration with Eco Viva and the Mangrove Association of the Bajo Lempa youth and local artists created a mural on a community space near the mangrove forrest in the Bay de Jiquilisco.
  • Orleans, California – Along the Klamath River where the largest dam removal project ever is in motion after an advocacy campaign lead by local native tribes and environmentalists. The mural portrays the Northern California Native people’s stomp dances that bring balance to the world. The dancer’s movements are breaking down the cement of the dams that block the Klamath River and prevent the salmon from swimming upstream to spawn.
  • Bogota, Colombia – At a youth center in the urban area of Bogota, the mural wraps around the building and portrays images of youth and nature on the front. The side shows kids, birds, insects, and plants joining forces to launch an attack on a huge ship in their bay that has brought foreign corporations to extract natural resources and polluting the environment.
  • Cape Town, South Africa – In collaboration with The Mvula Trust and local and international artists, the mural wraps around the Usasazo Secondary School in the township of Khayelitsha. In the native language of Xhosa the word “Singamanzi” rolls aross the wall and translates to “We Are Water”. Homes and shacks are painted with simple rainwater catchment systems, schoolchildren are painted using water well, text bubbles with facts about water in South Africa and reasons why water is such a crucial resource. In Khayelitsha there are floods every winter and fires every summer, there is a huge lack of toilets, and hand washing stations, and the mural shows the community as it could be. We hope that it serves as an educational tool, not only the secondary students at this school but the primary students at the four school along the same road, and the rest of the community that will walk by.
  • Phoenix, Arizona – In collaboration with the Black Mesa Water Coalition this mural will address the future uses of water after the community fought to shut down a major coal mine that was pumping pollutants into the waterways.
  • San Francisco, California and Richmond, California – In planning for 2014.