Kathleen Velo: Water Flow: Under the Colorado River
Kathleen Velo has a new body of work that expands on previous explorations of water–it’s sources and the ramifications of over usage. Water Flow Under the Colorado River focuses on “the water flowing in the Colorado River, from its headwaters deep in the Rocky Mountains north of Denver, as it travels through five states and empties into the Gulf of California in Mexico”. Captured at night as photograms, the photographs reflect the location and the water quality of sites along the Colorado River.
Kathleen was born in Chicago and lives in Tucson, Arizona. She earned her BFA from the University of Wisconsin and MFA from Vermont College. She grew up in the Midwest where water was plentiful, and after living in the desert southwest for many years has gained a new respect for the transcendent qualities of this life force. As a process driven artist, Kathleen has simplified technique to maximize her interaction with the natural alchemy of light, chemistry, and space, using camera-less, pinhole and plastic camera techniques to capture her imagery.
Her work has been shown in many galleries and museums nationally and internationally, including the Palace of the Governors Museum in Santa Fe, Tucson Museum of Art, Southeastern Museum of Photography, and The Center for Fine Art Photography. Kathleen’s work is in numerous public and private collections and she has received a variety of artist project grants and awards. Kathleen is a Fulbright alumna and teaches traditional and digital photography in Arizona.
“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water” this quote by Loren Eisley sums up my love of water. I grew up on Lake Michigan, where water was endless; now I live in the desert Southwest and by many accounts, we are running out of water. The water we do have is corrosive, destroys our plumbing, and tastes terrible. Several years ago the city where I live decided to not improve our water treatment facilities, but to let residents (those who could afford to) filter their own water. This alarming fact inspired me to take a look at water quality in the Southwest, by creating underwater photograms in various water sources.
In my series, Water Flow, I create underwater photograms directly on chromogenic paper in water sources ranging from desert arroyos after monsoon rains, to recharge basins for city potable water, to the entire Colorado River. Most recently my project, Water Flow Under the Colorado River, has focused on the water flowing in the Colorado River, from its headwaters deep in the Rocky Mountains north of Denver, as it travels through five states and empties into the Gulf of California in Mexico. As the main water source for the Western United States the Colorado River is the most regulated, overused river in the country. By the time water from this magnificent river reaches parched desert cities, it is polluted, re-used, and re-polluted.I create these images in the dark of night and it is a magical process: the contents of water – the silt, sediment, plant life, minerals, and viscosity – are captured on the photograms. The interaction of the water contents with the photographic emulsion creates an alchemy that provides colors which authenticate the distinct character of the water in each location. The images provide a unique perspective of the water in the Southwest at dozens of sites, from under the surface of the water. A key objective of my project is raise awareness of a critical environmental issue affecting millions of us in the Western U.S. And, it is a mystical experience to be in the water, particularly of the Colorado River, in the dark of night creating these exquisite meditations on water.
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