Jann Rosen-Queralt: The Artist as Change Agent

Growing up in Michigan, Jann Rosen-Queralt spent a lot of time around the Great Lakes, which holds 90 percent of North America’s fresh surface water, nearly 20 percent of the world’s by volume. Sadly, the sustainability of the Lakes has been threatened by climate change. Beyond the United States, many water ecosystems around the world are also in peril.

“Over the years, I have become sensitized to water as a precariously finite resource,” Rosen-Queralt says. A MICA faculty member who was a key member of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study Arts Integration Steering Committee, she has been working with water as a subject for more than 20 years.

Acutely aware of the forces that could jeopardize the world’s fresh water supply, Rosen-Queralt is also concerned that the United States’ water footprint is twice the global annual average. Turning to the region, she says there is a need for better stewardship of and care for Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay’s water systems. This is what she and her collaborators want to promote through “ARGO,”their participatory installation at Light City Baltimore 2017.

“ARGO” uses light as a metaphor for the power of water. Bridging art and science, it centers on an immersive light event, including an 11 feet high freestanding sculpture and video projection that illuminates the structure, the surfaces of the Inner Harbor’s promenade and viewers. To underscore the profound influence of water on our lives, the program also includes two workshops on the physics of light, on top of walkabout and musical performances.

Rosen-Queralt and her teammates, Marian Ochoa ‘13 (Photographic and Electronic Media M.F.A.) and Kirsten Marie Walsh ‘15 (Curatorial Practice M.F.A.), were inspired by the Greek myth, Jason and the Argonauts, which became the basis for their quest to raise consciousness about water as a precious and limited resource. They are collaborating with the Maryland Science Museum, Baltimore and Native American performance artists to engage a broad audience on this important topic. They hope the Baltimore public will experience the multifaceted, layered attributes of water.

Asked what she hopes to achieve through “ARGO,” Rosen-Queralt says, “I would like people to be conscious of water usage in their daily lives.”

She stressed, “We hope to draw the public’s attention to this important global issue without wagging our fingers at them. They can decide how they want to respond.”