The water bearers: Meet the five Atlanta artists of Flux’s “Flow” project

The multiyear series of artistic works, conceived by Flux Projects, explores Atlanta’s complex relationship with water

The water bearers: Five Atlanta artists in the flow
There Is a Land Beyond the River by Gyun Hur, 2021
Hur’s use of yellow refers to the racialized color for Asians in America as well as the golden color of bells in the lyrics of the Christian hymn—the exhibit’s namesake.

Photograph courtesy of Gyun Hur

In the fall of 2022, Rachel Parish’s public exhibition Emergence installed temporary monuments at Grady Hospital, the Georgia State Capitol, the Tabernacle, and the Gulch—locations closest to four springheads that mark a system of waterways buried beneath downtown Atlanta. It was the start of a multiyear series of artistic works conceived by Flux Projects, dubbed Flow, to explore Atlanta’s complex relationship with water. Creations by local and national artists, says Flux’s executive director Anne Dennington, will “illuminate Atlanta’s lost waterways, address water in the struggle for racial equality, and consider water’s role in spiritual and cultural rituals, all in hopes of reconnecting the city to the life-sustaining resource.”

Hannah Palmer
On Memorial Day weekend, Hannah Palmer’s multimedia installation Ghost Pools will explore the history of Atlanta’s public swimming facilities with memorials to two pools that were closed rather than integrated. Palmer will outline the pools in their former, now underutilized spaces, install low diving boards, and collaborate with visual, sound, and performance artists to transform the sites into community spaces to explore and reflect on this complicated, often painful past.

Gyun Hur
In 2024, Gyun Hur’s time-based installation will explore the spiritual and cultural roles of water in grief and healing by commemorating the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings. While the shape of her installation is yet to be revealed, it will be a continuation of her artistic exploration of loss and beauty. In 2021, Hur created teardrop-shaped glass vessels that hold Chattahoochee River water in memory of the victims in order to grapple with her emotional proximity to the tragedy as an immigrant daughter of the Atlanta Korean community. She sees the river’s constant movement as a choreography of letting go while generating life, as she writes in her artist statement: “In childhood memories from South Korea, rivers were sites of mourning, washing, and rejoicing. In the larger context, rivers hold ecological memories of abundance, eradication, borders, and power.”

Jonathon Keats
Jonathon Keats’s Atlanta River Time will feature two erosion calendars entitled The Erosion of Time. Set to go public in 2024 and 2025, each will have a series of stones inscribed with dates that will be erased over time by the flow of water, marking environmental flux. One will be placed in Browns Mill Village, a new development by Habitat for Humanity, where Sherwood Design Engineers reestablished a headwaters tributary of the South River in the central community space. The other will be in Zonolite Park, where the South Fork Conservancy and Pond & Co. are carving out wetlands along the south fork of Peachtree Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River.

Core Dance
Under the direction of artistic director Sue Schroeder, Core Dance’s Braiding Time, Memory and Water will be a collaboration with Keats’s Atlanta River Time. Set to an original score, dancers and spoken-word artists will be choreographed to follow—or be braided into—the flow and sounds of a water site. Because of the fluctuations in the water’s flow, the rivers and creeks will act as timekeepers in rhythmic synergy with the performers.

This article appears in our April 2023 issue.