Stokley Towles, FLUSHED: into the world of wastewater treatment, 2013
© Stokley Towles, FLUSHED: into the world of wastewater treatment, 2013, photo by McKenzie Taplin

Storyteller and solo performance artist Stokley Towles took audiences on a funny and factual journey to answer the question: After we flush where does it all go? The 50-minute monologue accompanied by projected images tells the story of Ron, a treatment plant manager up at night worrying about the "bugs" the system depends on, and the sewage swim team, and Leroy the eastern Washington wheat farmer with a plan to sponsor a chili feed in order to generate more "product." Following the treatment process by following the stories of food - from table to toilet to wheat fields and back to table - Towles' portrait of the system is also a portrait of the wastewater treatment workers, all of us who are part of the system, and the farmers who close the LOOP

Visit the artist's website.

Tess Martin, Part of the Cycle, 2013
© Tess Martin, Part of the cycle, 2013, india ink, water, paper, (still from animated film)

Animation artist Tess Martin created a charming short film called Part of the Cycle that explores our relationship to water. "All the water we have is what you see on this Earth," states Kristin Covey, wastewater treatment education specialist and tour guide for Brightwater. Using ink and water and her extraordinary storytelling skills, Tess shows us how we use and re-use that finite resource and how we are all part of the cycle.

Download a zine with folding instructions that Tess Martin created to accompany her film Part of the Cycle.

Visit artist Tess Martin's website.

Marita Dingus, The 4 P's, 2013
© Marita Dingus, The 4Ps, 2013, recycled mixed media, detail of student artwork from Brightwater Summer Camp, photo by 4Culture

There are really only four "P's" that you should ever flush down the toilet. Artist Marita Dingus helped 600 students, primarily in kindergarten through 3rd grade classes, to mind their P's through a series of hands-on art-making workshops. Students from Moorlands Elementary School, Woodin Elementary School, Daniel Elementary School, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School and Brightwater's Summer Day Camp made tiny toilets using re-purposed materials that are typically excluded from curb-side recycling programs. The art activity guided a conversation with our youngest citizens about what you should and definitely should not flush. The student's creations were strung together to create Garland of Toilets and displayed at library locations in Kirkland, Kent and Seattle and at the Northshore Utility District office in Kenmore.

© Vaughn Bell with Janet Knox, FROTH RINSE REFLECT SEND, 2013, Glycerin soap and ceramic

The water system is a huge and mostly unseen stream. It is a vast network in our houses, under our streets, headed to Puget Sound. We touch it every day. Vaughn Bell's artwork encouraged a moment of noticing our shared connection to this system through 600 bars of soap, each containing a small ceramic "stone" inscribed with lines of a poem by Janet Norman Knox. The artist displayed the soap at the Brightwater Center, encouraging visitors to take a bar and become part of the art.

"We turn on the tap and we take the bar of soap in our hand. It is an intimate yet unnoticed object. Normally, it wears away and disappears, becoming out of sight, out of mind. The "poem stone" is visible inside clear the glycerin soap, and as the soap washes away over time, the words become clearer. Eventually each bar of soap will leave behind its relic, a poem reminding us of the cycle of water and waste. This artwork is an insertion into the stream of water and the stream of consciousness."

Download a copy of Janet Norman Knox's poem "Carbon Shining in Our Faces."

Visit the artist's website.

Judith Roche, Litany for Brightwater, 2013
© Brightwater Treatment Plant opening day tour. Photo by King County | Ned Ahrens

"Praise the unbroken cycle of connective pipes,
veins and arteries in the long body of earth,
labyrinth of influent/effluent
swirling to the great heart of the system…."

For years Judith Roche poet, editor, arts educator and translator, has turned her passion for the environment towards the creation of evocative and powerful poetry to remind us all of the connection between the human spirit and the cycles of nature.

Judith explains her work for Brightwater by stating, "The poem, "Litany for Bright Water" is a praise poem. It includes the pipes as veins and arteries, the land, the bodies of water, the animals that live there, and the final result- the clean sweet compost. I walked some of the miles of the "archeology of pipes" to get a feel for the distances, water bodies, land and pump stations of the system and wrote the poem to answer 4Culture's idea that the art at Brightwater should "reveal the mystery behind how things work," informed by a scientific investigation."

Judith has collaborated with other artists on projects in the King County Public Art Collection, including Water Carry with Claudia Fitch at the Interurban Pump Station and Blessings for the Biosolids with Jane Tsong at the Brightwater Treatment Plant.

Listen to Poet Judith Roche read her poem, Litany for Brightwater.

Download a copy of Judith Roche's poem "Litany for Brightwater."

Visit the artist's website.

Collection: Brightwater Conveyance: Bothell to Point Wells King County, WA

Six artists were commissioned to tell the story of Brightwater's Conveyance -- 13 miles of pipeline and underground tunnels and a pump station that carry wastewater to and from the treatment plant.