WSU students use art to show water pollution

Art installation demonstrates harmful pollutants in underground river


RACHEL SUN | The Daily Evergreen

WSU Landscape Architecture student Addy Martoncik draws water designs Thursday afternoon along Grand Avenue. The students made a chalk illustration to raise awareness of the river many Pullman residents are unaware of as part of the Landscape achitecture sophmore studio.

JONATHAN VILLANUEVA, Evergreen reporter

To raise awareness of pollution in local water sources, 14 landscape architecture students created an art piece over Dry Fork Creek, which runs underground below downtown Pullman.

“Pullman is a water city, yet much of that water remains out of the consciousness of most residents,” Steve Austin said. “The city’s original name was ‘Three Forks,’ a reference to the founding of the city at the intersection of three distinct streams: the Missouri Flat Creek and the Dry Fork Creek, which both flow into the South Fork of the Palouse River.”

RACHEL SUN | The Daily Evergreen
Water patterns drawn in blue chalk circle the pedestrian push buttons on the corner of Grand Avenue and Main Street Tuesday afternoon. The project called “Dry Forks Luv” was headed by
students in the WSU Landscape Architecture sophomore studio.

Steve Austin, a landscape architecture professor, introduced this project on the first day of school and expected the class to finish it in two weeks’ time. Austin planned this project toward the beginning of summer.

He then spilt the entire class into teams of four: a social media team, a diagrams team, an investigations team and an art team.

Austin based the project on his friend Stacy Levy’s art installations. They first met when Austin hired Levy to do a project with him in Kentucky.

“She had done a project in New York City, back in the spring where she asked people to paint some watery stuff on the sidewalk,” Austin said. “The reason why we are doing it now is to ask people what is under their feet.”

Steve Austin’s class took to the streets of Pullman on Friday to promote awareness of Dry Fork Creek. At 2 p.m., three of the four teams attended to create the art design installation.

RACHEL SUN | The Daily Evergreen
Landscape Architecture student Omar Guzman draws “bricks” on the sidewalk with chalk Tuesday. The WSU students drew designs to show where the Dry Forks Creek runs under Grand Avenue.

The students painted the sidewalk from Main Street to the Palouse River Park completely in chalk. One student, Charles Li, a sophomore landscape architecture major, painted salmon and waves between Paradise Street and Café Moro.

“The whole entire concept is how Dry Fork Creek meets Pullman.” Li said. “From Paradise Street to Café Moro, that’s going to be natural wavy environment.”

Katheryne Winslow, the head of the art team, said the idea was a collaboration between her and two other classmates, Jonathan Valdez and Li.

Winslow said Valdez had the idea to start natural and wavy. Farther along the installation, drawings in the shape of hands and germs became more chaotic to show the human impact on the creek. It was Winslow’s idea to create a sort of 3-D image so people downtown would understand what is below the sidewalk.

The Pullman community at large does not know one of the founding creeks of Pullman has some harmful pollutants that can affect the environment, said Nick Torres, the head of the investigations team.

Dry Fork Creek has gathered many pollutants, such as fecal coliform, that can affect the organisms living in the creek, said Jaime Kemple, the project manager.

“The bacteria gathers in clusters, and by itself, its causes some damage,” Kemple said. “But it’s not the most damaging bacteria we need to worry about. One of the things it does is that it indicates the quality and safety of the water.”

Kemple said the Pullman community has a direct impact on the water; the waste that enters the creek is in direct response the people that live in the area. One of the things community members can do is to pick up after their pets.