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New York's Water Tanks Get an Artistic Makeover

Jay-Z, Jeff Koons and other artists are pushing New Yorkers to reconsider their water supply with public art.

Love for the spirit and built environment of New York City has inspired countless works of contemporary art, from Jay-Z's lyrics to Jeff Koons’ stainless steel balloon sculptures. In 2013, these two artists plus 30 others will collaborate on another New York-based project focused entirely on protecting a precious natural resource: water.

For 12 weeks next summer, New Yorkers will be encouraged to look up when the city's redwood water tanks are wrapped in custom-designed attire in all five boroughs. The public art organization Word Above the Street will collaborate with a diverse group of artists to come up with the designs on the handmade vinyl wraps, including Jay-Z and Koons, but also musician Devendra Banhart, pop artist Ed Ruscha, scupltor Andy Goldsworthy, and graffiti artist Fab 5 Freddy, to create a dialogue about the city's relationship with water.

The organizers write, “We want New York City to look up again, to dream big, to feel proud, to do something, to create, to share, to believe.” With the help of social media, the co-founders project that about 8.4 million residents of New York City, 5 million tourists, and millions around the world will view these works—either in person or online—and presumably start to think about water in a new way.

In their Kickstarter campaign, Word Above the Street writes, "The goal of The Water Tank Project is to produce art as social intervention and bring about changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behavior among those who experience it." Ideally the artwork will increase awareness about the global water crisis, appreciation of high quality drinking water, and education about the negative consequences of plastic waste.

The organization has an ambitious Kickstarter funding goal of $1 million which will be used to legally secure the water tanks, ensure that they’re suitable for wrapping, and print the submitted works of art. With financial support, the co-founders hope to move along the production process to have the tanks ready to launch by next summer. If all goes well, the project hopes to spread to other global cities, including Mumbai, Rio, Mexico City, and Sydney.

Photos courtesy of Word Above the Street

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