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Our very own project consultant Richard Wukich (Slippery Rock University) was interviewed by CNN during his most recent trip to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. A brief story aired on CNN a few days ago. Although the story incorrectly links him with Potters for Peace his trip was part of a partnership with FilterPure in the Dominican Republic and an initiative to establish a ceramic water filter production facility in Haiti. You can watch the video here:

Here is the description that accompanies the video:

Dr Richard Wukich of Slippery Rock University creates Ceramic Water Filters to save lives. This is a CNN Anderson Cooper story about DR Wukich’s trip to Haiti, Potters For Peace and how he teaches residents of countries with poor drinking water how to make their own water filters…….. The January 12 earthquake in Haiti damaged the already weak infrastructure on the island nation. As a result, thousands of Haitian families were left homeless and forced into tent encampments, without reliable access to food, clean water or sanitation.

In response to the disaster, Dr. Richard Wukich is in Haiti with a simple mission: to bring clean water to Haitians in need. Working with Potters For Peace, an international nonprofit that makes clay water filters, Wukich is distributing these useful clay pots to Haitian families. The pots are inexpensive to make and each pot can purify 2.5 liters of water each hour.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper reports.

TAMU Water Project members Steve Carpenter and Dick Wukich recently visited California State University-San Bernardino (CSUSB) where they conducted a two-day water filter workshop and public demonstration as well as a public lecture on the production of ceramic water filters and related projects. Below are some images of their trip. Professor Billie Sessions (art education) and Assistant Professor Alison Petty Ragguette (ceramics) made the visit, workshops and lectures possible.

Mixing clay on campus.

Mixing clay on campus.

Mixing clay in the middle of campus at CSUSB.

Mixing clay in the middle of campus at CSUSB.

Dick Wukich throwing part of a water filter receptacle.

Dick Wukich throwing part of a water filter receptacle.

Here is a copy of a letter our friend and project consultant Manny Hernandez recently received. The letter is from Mark Green, United States of America Ambassador to Tanzania. In the letter, Ambassador Green acknowledges Manny for his unselfish work to help people. I find the following statement as the most inspirational part of the letter:

Few people have the dedication, let alone the ability, to take their professional skills and use them to lift up those in need. Your teachings and your approach to development will create a lasting legacy that benefits generations to come.

Manny is the embodiment of dedication, ability and generosity. We are honored and proud to know and work with him.

Thank you Ambassador Hernandez.

The letter refers to an article about Manny that appeared in the recent issue of Northern Now, a publication by Northern Illinois University. Read more about Manny and the feature story about him in this publication.

The Summer 2008 copy of the Northern Now magazine features a story about our own Manny Hernandez. Below you will find a link to the newsletter (PDF). Among other important stories you will find a feature on Manny and his global humanitarian work with ceramic water filters. Once you download the magazine, go to page 12 (page number revealed at bottom of screen) to see the article on Manny and his work.

Bravo, Manny.

We held our most recent Filter Friday yesterday. We created one large filter and build and fired a small wood kiln to fire two mini filters. Our intention was to build a small kiln that we could fire in a short amount of time for use with demonstrations, workshops, and other educational events. We started using tightly rolled newspapers as the fuel and then switched to wood. The firing lasted a little less than three hours and the filters almost reached a low bisque temperature. The pyrometer reading was 1300 degrees F which is about 700 degrees C; not quite hot enough for all organic matter to have burned out (based on this firing and temperature chart), and therefore, not quite the bisque temperature we wanted. A longer firing should help get us there. We are looking forward to building and firing the next one.

Here are some images of the kiln, the firing, and the filters. We used soft bricks given to us by Joy Pottery in Bryan, Texas. Joy Pottery dismantled their gas kiln (the kiln where we fired the previous mini filters and large filters) and is in the process of building a new kiln shed for their new gas kiln. We will use the bricks for the mini filter wood kiln and a larger kiln either here for our local kiln or as part of our project in the Colonias.

The mini filters seem to filter water at the proper filtration rate of about two liters per hour, although their surface in some places becomes a bit soft.

This video features our very own Manny Hernandez, Professor of Art at Northern Illinois University, talking about the water filter. The video was taken during a  filter demonstration during the Batavia, Illinois Green Art Walk in April 2008.  Manny commented, “I wasn’t prepared for it, so everything I said was off the cuff.” The video is just under six minutes in length and offers a good overview of the ceramic water filter technology. You can see water dripping from the filter and at one point, Manny drinks some of the filtered water–water that came from a local river.

Water Library is a “must visit” for artists and educators interested in water and the environment. This is an amazing site with great curriculum ideas and works of art related to water and environmental issues. It is a book, a www site, and a resource. There is a section on water borne disease and non-potable water. The site and project were created by Basia Irland, (Professor, Department of Art and Art History).

In 2002, artist Brian Collier created an interdisciplinary, complex intstallation entitled Some Properties of Water. The work is “a multi-phased project centered on the different ways in which we perceive water.” On his website, Collier describes the work as having three phases:

Phase 1, Collection and Documentation
For this phase 81 separate samples of water were collected and placed into hand-made plexiglass test tubes. The sample sites were documented with photographs, maps, and journal entries. Once all the samples were collected the documentation was turned into 3″ x 3″ booklets and hung on a wood and monofilament line display rack. The collection boxes holding the water samples were also displayed.

Phase 2, Evaporation
In this phase the collected water samples were poured into glass-bottomed trays and left to evaporate into the exhibition space. The installation consisted of eighty-one 3″ x 9″ framed archival digital prints, eighty one 3″ x 3″ glass-bottomed wood trays on a custom-made wood table, three wooden collection boxes containing eighty-one Plexiglas test tubes, and eighty-one water samples.

Phase 3, Residue
The final phase of the project looks at the residue left in the glass bottomed traysfrom the evaporated water samples.

We have used this work by Collier as inspiration for one of the projects in our own interdisciplinary curriculum.

Water Towers – Bernd and Hilla Becher

Water Sculptor – Giles Raynor

“The effects of light and sound in combination with movement, can add a totally new dimension. At different times of day or night, sculptures can reach the senses in a new way.”

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