Introducing New 'Ways of Knowing Water' Research Collaborative

This month, we helped to convene a new research collaborative comprised of artists, activists, scientists, and humanities scholars from the University of Minnesota and beyond. A few of the participants are regular Water Bar collaborators with whom we’ve been working in different ways over the past years, and others were new to the circle!

Our first conversation was focused on getting to know each other, and after a spirited exchange about the ways we each know water—and the problems of disciplinary boundaries and hierarchies—we began planning for a series of shared experiences (which we’re calling study sessions) that we will plan together over the coming months. This collaborative research will culminate in a public presentation sometime next fall, and will hopefully lead to other new connections and collaborations between participants!

About This Collaborative

With support from the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Advanced Study and Institute on Environment, artist and Water Bar Co-founder Shanai Matteson, Weisman Art Museum Curator of Creative Collaboration Boris Oicherman, and Institute on Environment Director Jessica Hellmann are convening this group of thinkers and creators, to focus together on diverse ways of knowing water across and beyond discipline. The goal of this collaborative, which will meet regularly throughout the coming year for shared experiences and reflections, will be to deepen creative relationships within and beyond the University, and to advance possibilities for new models of teaching and learning with water, on and off campus.

Read on for more info about this project and the participating artists and scholars!

Thank you to the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Advanced Study and Institute on Environment for the support. We’ll use this website and our new Patreon network to share reflections and other conversations that emerge from this group.

IAS Collaborative - Ways of Knowing Water

If you try to remember you will lose! Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. You pour water in a cup it becomes the cup; you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or creep or drip or crash! Be water my friend.

Bruce Lee, in Longstreet (TV Series)


Co-Conveners: Shanai Matteson, Boris Oicherman, Jessica Hellmann.

Collaborative Participants: Aaron Dysart, Jewell Arcoran, Amoke Kubat, Keegan Xavi, Ethan Neerdaels, Mankwe Ndosi, Amanda Lovelee, Daniela Sandler, Vicente Diaz, Bill Arnold, Bonnie Keeler, Beth Fisher, Richa Nagar, and Pat Nunnally.

Academic knowledge, embodied knowledge, personal knowledge, collective knowledge, cultural knowledge—what does it mean to really, truly know water? Not to know about it—but know it, learn with it, teach in it?

If we could reimagine the ways we learn and teach outside of academic conventions: if we focus on the thing to be learned and not on disciplinary and institutional perspectives on it; If we disregard the hierarchies of knowing and radically diversify approaches to knowledge—what kind of an educational model might we end up with?

The Institute on the Environment, Weisman Art Museum and Water Bar & Public Studio collaborate to bring together a community of artists, scientists, thinkers, craftsmen and others to feel, think, learn, read and taste water. In a series of study sessions we will explore environmental, indigenous, experiential, scientific, poetic, communal and other aspects of water, connecting the study of water with the environments where that study takes place. What we learn will be the foundation of a collaborative “Water Seminar” in the summer or fall of 2019. Outcomes from the seminar include new collaborative relationships and critical frameworks for learning from, with, and within water and community.

For more information about IAS Research and Creative Collaboratives visit this page.