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Watershed Moment

August 3–October 30, 2022
Free with Academy admission

creek with big rocks in foreground and green trees in background with watershed moment in white letters

“I would urge that we ‘think like a watershed’ … mindful of the intricate human and natural connections that link the greater water system.”  

- Roland Wall, Director of the Patrick Center for Environmental Research, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University  

The Academy of Natural Science of Drexel University presents Watershed Moment, the signature artwork of the Academy’s Water Year celebration that provides fresh perspectives on the water systems that bind us together. Centered around the importance of watershed thinking in our lives, Watershed Moment is designed to inspire a greater connection with our local waterways and the vital need to protect them. It is comprised of four installations created by artists in response to watershed science and the physical realities of water as it moves across and through our urban landscape. Taken together, the four projects create an interwoven experience that will draw visitors into an intimate relationship with the Lower Schuylkill River watershed and the flow of water everywhere. 

The artworks, which can be experienced individually or together, in any order, include:  

The River Feeds Back, A sound installation by Annea Lockwood and Liz Phillips

The River Feeds Back

A sound installation by artists Annea Lockwood and Liz Phillips  
William B. Dietrich Gallery  
June 1–October 30, 2022
Free with Academy admission 

The Lenni Lenape call the Schuylkill River the Ganshowahanna, or roaring waters, for its noisy course over rocks and stones, and the Wissahickon Creek the Wisameckhan, or cat-fish stream. In The River Feeds Back, you can traverse these aquatic environments through an immersive sound installation created by artists Annea Lockwood and Liz Phillips. 

Recorded at sites along the 135 miles of the Schuylkill River from its headwaters to its mouth, this layered sound map offers glimpses of the river system above and below the water’s surface through a variety of listening portals made of wood, slate and clay pottery. Experience swirling currents, water slipping and rushing over rocks, the underwater lives of aquatic insects and fish, trumpeting geese crashing into water, chirping birds, cheeping frogs, and the long, slow sweeps of toad calls. The River Feeds Back attunes us to the life-giving waterways of the Schuylkill, vital sources of water for Philadelphia. 

The River Feeds Back is a companion piece to Lockwood and Phillips’ outdoor installation, Inside the Watershed on the Schuylkill River Trail, in which passersby can experience a live feed from the river as well as a sound composition. Both projects are presented as part of Watershed Moment: How to Get to the River, an art adventure walk (opening August 3, 2022). Both works have been created as part of Water Year 2022, a yearlong celebration and investigation of water designed to inspire a more intimate connection with our local waterways and the vital need to protect them.  

All exhibits are included with the purchase of a general admission ticket

Members receive free admission to The River Feeds Back. Not a member? Join now! 
Current members, check out the Members’ Guide for more information about your admission benefits. 

Learn more about the artists Annea Lockwood and Liz Phillips. 

How to Get to the River

August 3–October 30, 2022  
Produced by New Paradise Laboratories   
$7 or free with Academy admission 

How to Get to the River is an urban watershed adventure walk that leads participants from the Academy of Natural Sciences down Cherry Street through a micro-watershed of the Schuylkill River. The experience will initiate an intimate conversation with the watershed as it informs our landscape, traverses our neighborhoods and underpins our lives.  

Scientists understand the watershed to be crucial to our homes, our livelihoods, our survival and the health of our communities. But what is a watershed, really? Can we see it, hear it, touch it? How does a watershed reveal itself in an urban landscape built from impervious streets, concrete sidewalks and underground sewers?  

How to Get to the River, developed by New Paradise Laboratories founder Whit MacLaughlin and core collaborators Laia and Pete Angevine, leads us to an embodied understanding of a vast geophysical system — scaling it to our lives, encouraging us to feel the watershed in our bones and viewing it as a portrait of water’s presence. It is an investigative walk that unveils the watershed’s bustling dynamism in a neighborhood immediately adjacent to the Academy of Natural Sciences, taking you down Cherry Street to the Schuylkill River and back. Follow visual cues, trail blazes, embedded sound experiences and other surprising moments that treat this urban watershed as a work of art. Become attuned to the evidence of water flow as it is imprinted on our urban landscape, noticing how it is channeled to the ground, courses across sloped roofs, gushes through rain gutters and splashes into underground storm drains. 

How to Get to the River is 1.5 miles long. It is free with Academy general admission, or you can purchase a standalone ticket for $7. Timed tickets are required and can be purchased online (tickets available starting in July) or at the museum. Maximum of four walkers per time slot.  

Hours:  

  • 10:15 a.m.–3:45 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 
  • 10:15 a.m.–6:45 p.m. Friday 

Credits

Attunement

August 3–October 30, 2022  

A public sculpture located in front of the Academy of Natural Sciences on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway 
Designed by David Gordon in collaboration with New Paradise Laboratories  
Fabricated by Jordan Griska  
Free 

Standing 35 feet high and situated near the front entrance of the Academy of Natural Sciences on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Attunement is a large-scale sound sculpture that introduces the key themes behind Watershed Moment. Attunement incorporates a funnel, an agricultural cistern, irrigation technologies and sousaphone bells, combining them into a single three-dimensional expression of sight and sound. It is both a visual representation of watershed science and a naturally amplified sound experience. Inspired by the traditional Japanese garden ornament and musical instrument known as suikinkitsu, Attunement depicts the energetic life of droplets of water as they gather together to create larger geophysical structures.  

This sound experience is a subtle, fanfare-like introduction to watershed thinking. It invites viewers into a meditative perceptual space — a quiet listening experience situated alongside one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares. Attunement is located on the Parkway across from another civic water expression of note, Swann Fountain in Logan Circle, designed by Alexander Stirling Calder that symbolizes the region’s major local waterways: the Delaware River, the Schuylkill River and Wissahickon Creek.  

The brainchild of theatrical designer David Gordon working in collaboration with New Paradise Laboratories, Attunement is constructed largely from recycled materials. It tells the story of how a watershed transfers water across land formations to larger gatherings of water. It then musicalizes that process so that spectators can hear and see it.  

Attunement will lead participants to the experiential neighborhood walk How to Get to the River, an embodied examination of watershed science.  

Inside the Watershed

An outdoor sound installation created by artists Annea Lockwood and Liz Phillips  
August 3–October 30, 2022  
Schuylkill River Trail 

Inside the Watershed is an outdoor sound installation created by artists Annea Lockwood and Liz Phillips. Within a specially designed arbor located on the Schuylkill River Trail, hear live sound from an underwater microphone placed in the river at the site and discover a fascinating water world normally hidden from us. Immerse yourself in the river’s sounds as you feel low-frequency waves through two benches in the arbor. Every half hour, five minutes of recordings made underwater at the Black Rock Sanctuary near Phoenixville mix with live sound coming from the river. 

Inside the Watershed is a companion piece to Lockwood and Phillips’ The River Feeds Back in the Academy of Natural Sciences' Dietrich Gallery and is the culminating experience of How to Get to the River. Open during daylight hours, Inside the Watershed is free of charge and accessible to the public.

Arbor designed by David Gordon 
Fabrication by Jesse Engaard 
Produced by New Paradise Laboratories and Greenhouse Media