SASKATOON -- The University of Saskatchewan and artists from the area have teamed up to educate and inspire people on water challenges through the Virtual Water Gallery (VWG).

“It’s a space for collaborations between artists, water experts, and the public to collectively reflect on water challenges that we all face,” said U of S postdoctoral fellow with Global Water Futures (GWF) and lead curator for VWG Louise Arnal.

The VWG features seven projects funded by GWF and an additional five external projects. In total eight artists and researchers are from Saskatoon plus an additional three communications staff. The curators of the work are also employed by the university.

The project was launched April 29 and can be viewed online at the Virtual Water Gallery.

“We truly believe by bringing these different perspectives together, so perspectives from the community of artists, Indigenous peoples and many others, we can essentially find more holistic and creative solutions to these water challenges,” Arnal said. 

Arnal’s piece, Deep Time, portrays the challenges of groundwater and related environmental challenges.

“Groundwater is something that you cannot see with your own eyes and that we very rarely think about,” Arnal said. “We created this book because we basically have each page that describes the layer or an aquifer of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin.”

The VWG also sheds light on permafrost thaw, agriculture, impacts of climate change in the sub-Arctic and the Peyto Glacier. Another project looks at the flow of water from mountains through to the seas.

“Groundwater, it’s not photogenic, it’s hard to visualize,” said U of S geological engineer Grant Ferguson. “To have Louise bring that to life was pretty special.”

“Scientists and engineers can talk to each other and communicate, but that doesn’t always resonate with the public and all the emotion is just kind of stripped away from it but these are issues that should invoke a bit of emotion.”