Listening to Water


Have you ever wondered what WATER would say if they could speak with human words?

Listening to Water follows the rivers and streams that flow from the Adirondack Mountains to their confluences with the Kaniatarowanénhne, translated from the Kanien’kéha (Mohawk) as the Great River, also known as the St. Lawrence River. Traveling through and with these waters, a group of artists, researchers, and traditional knowledge holders have collaborated to share the voices of rivers and their more-than-human guardians. Works include a beaded storytelling quilt by Iakonikonriiosta and Lorna Maie Thomas (Akwesasne), as well as ceramic vessels by Katsitsionni Fox (Akwesasne), Rachael Marne Jones (USA), and Sosakete (Akwesasne).

watercolor of two fish
Blake Lavia, The Eyes of Water, watercolor, 2023

Katsitsionni Fox
Michale Glennon
Lorna Maie Thomas
Rachael Marne Jones
David Kanietakeron Fadden
Curt Stager
Erika Barthelmess
Matt Burnett
Waterscape Collective
Esthela Calderón
Blake Lavia
Alejandra Altamirano Salazar
Stephany Hildebrand
Charlie Reinertsen

The exhibition explores the roles, rights, and responsibilities of the various communities that make up these Northeastern watersheds. From the Freshwater Mussels that clean the currents, the American Eel that weaves together streams and oceans, the Trees that shape the weather, and the Butterflies that travel from Flower to Flower, these “guardians” do their part to keep the watershed flourishing. To tell the guardians’ stories, the exhibition also features collaborations among scientists and artists, including environmental biologist Dr. Curt Stager (USA), painter David Kanietakeron Fadden (Akwesasne), and ecologist and mixed-media artist Dr. Michale Glennon (USA).

Curated by the environmental storytellers and activists Blake Lavia and Tzintzun Aguilar-Izzo of Talking Wings, the exhibition is part of the Listening to Water symposium presented in the late fall of 2023 involving both Indigenous and settler participants. Three in-person gallery discussions bring together artists who share how human interpreters can leave space for water and their guardians to speak.

– Blake Lavia and Tzintzun Aguilar-Izzo, exhibition curators

Following in the steps of educators and scholars Sandra Styres and Robin Kimmerer, who are working to decolonize language, the curators have capitalized the names of more-than-human guardians. For more information and to learn more about the artists and symposium, visit talkingrivers.org/listening-to-water.


October 16, 6:30 p.m.
When Water Speaks
with Iakonikonriiosta, Blake Lavia, Rachael Marne Jones, and Charlie Reinertsen

October 17, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Alexander String Quartet
Music performance inspired by water

November 1, 6:30 p.m.
Environmental Storytelling
with Esthela Calderón, David Kanietakeron Fadden, Michale Glennon, and Curt Stager

November 30, 6:30 p.m.
Learning, Educating, and Growing
with Katsitsionni Fox, Matt Burnett, Tzintzun Aguilar-Izzo, and Erika Barthelmess