Water Moves Life 

On view June 17, 2022 - Spring 2023
Anchorage Museum Lawn, satellite locations throughout Alaska


Water Moves Life, a site-specific work by artists Nicholas Galanin and Merritt Johnson, explores the common forces of climate change and inequality, linking extractive mindsets and corporatization of land, water, and human potential, all in juxtaposition with water. It examines the idea that all life follows water: It flows freely and cannot be easily contained. 

In these outdoor installations on the Anchorage Museum lawn and at other locations throughout Anchorage and Alaska, bronze forms replicate mass-produced plastic jugs, which the artists see as both mundane products of global capitalism and tools for survival amidst climate change. As the latter, these forms symbolize containers for carrying life-sustaining clean water to people in need: migrants making dangerous journeys, those displaced by climate disasters, or refugees fleeing political unrest.

By casting such utilitarian objects in bronze, a material traditionally used to fabricate large-scale monuments, the artists create vessels that prompt viewers to consider the precariousness of life and the legacy now being created for future generations.

The installation also employs layers of sound - man-made sounds, sounds related to human and animal migration, and human voices - as audible cues underscoring the importance of hearing what surrounds us and the potential consequences when we don’t.

This project is made possible, in part, with support from the Visionary Initiatives in Art (VIA) Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Project Sites

The Water Moves Life project is part of a broad creative outreach project that is developed as a series of temporary installations in cities in Alaska highlighting work of contemporary Alaska artists and featuring durable artworks placed in public spaces that are accessible and populated. The Anchorage Museum has been working with project collaborators to identify a series of sites that are safe, visible, and help shift the paradigm of art in public space. 

The sites selected for installation serve as rendezvous points for water-based community programming, including small gatherings and interventions will be conducted by the Anchorage Museum, collaborating artists, and community partners, to highlight local waterways, the importance of water in sustaining life, and the relationship of ecosystem health.

Other installations sites for Water Moves Life include Cuddy Family Park in midtown Anchorage and Alaska State Museum in Juneau.