The Oasis
(phase 1 of the Return of Free Water Project)

The Oasis stands as a testament to the will of human ingenuity as something capable of overcoming the overwhelming problems we face as a direct result of our support of the bottled beverage industry. Trash can be recycled, repurposed, reused. Here, in the Oasis, it is transformed into a beautiful stand of trees and foliage that glows with otherworldy beauty. Water can be reclaimed, filtered, and enlivened to nourish us again. In the Oasis, gray waste water is filtered through the same stand of trees and foliage, and comes out as pure, clean drinking water.

This first phase of the Return of Free Water project is now underway. Two of the trees have been built and are nearing completion. The full grant proposal is almost ready. The artificial spring which is the test model for the project is in process.

Here, on this page, you can follow our progress as we grow
The Oasis...

Concept art for 2010 Burning Man art grant proposal by Megan Van Deusen, one of the RoFW collaborators.

Below are some details on the two complete trees:

Plastarborea Flouroluminescens
72 flowers made from used water and soda bottles.
Over 300' of reclaimed PVC tubing.
Thousands of feet of reclaimed CAT-5 wire.
12 feet of startling beauty.

Plastarborea Flouroluminescens (aka "UV Tree")was completed thanks to a Creativity Grant from Transformus, the SouthEast Regional (un-official) Burn. Like the Water Willow, Plastarborea was born as a Live Sculptural installation. Most of the flowers, made from used water and soda bottles, were cut up and painted by RoFW lead visionary Creatrix Door and many others at gallery openings, festivals, and parties, to bring attention to the issues surrounding the commodification of water as it relates to our personal, daily choices (like whether to bring a reusable container or purchase water or soda in a disposable plastic bottle). Each flower is self-lit with ultraviolet LEDs.

Ultraviolet light is an example of how human ingenuity and technology can help us to deal positively with the Water Crisis. Developed by the Peace Corps, UV light can be used to kill all of the microbes usually found in areas with poor sanitation. Malaria, etc etc normally water born viruses and bacteria, are thus neutralized and "dirty" water is made safe to drink.

When the Oasis is fully operational, water will be pumped past a UV water sanitizer at the base of Plastarborea Flouroluminescense, thus ensuring that the water is safe to drink, from a biological perspective.

View from underneath tree, looking up. Thanks to "Joy G" (one of my Facebook friends)
for snapping this one at Transformus '09!


Creatrix inspects her work after attaching the first "leaves" on the "tree"...

Water Willow
Reusable bottles can be "plucked" from branches as "fruit."
Dispenses pure, clean drinking water to put in your reusable bottle.

The Water Willow was first constructed at Ashefest, an outdoor music festival near Asheville, in 2007. It was the first festival we attended with this project, and in order to make a statement about the sale of water in plastic bottles, the RoFW team not only gave away free water during the festival, but collected discarded bottled, cleaned them and removed the labels, and used them in the Water Willow sculpture.

The feedback we received from this simple act of giving water and transforming other people's trash was amazing. The sculpture provided a focal point that drew people in, allowing an opening for them to be educated about the issues. Multiple people proclaimed they were going to change their habits on the spot. My passion for live sculpture was born.

RoFW volunteer Shaina Heller removes labels from water bottles consumed and discarded at festival. The bottles were then attached to the Water Willow sculpture.

This tree, the first one built for the RoFW project, is currently undergoing revisions. This has been an important step in my creative process. For a very long time, the tree sat in my studio unfinished. I figured out eventually that the reason I found it so difficult to work on was that I disliked it - I hated how the bottles, attached whole to the branches, looked like a bunch of, well, trash.

At the fundraiser for The Oasis (April 24th at The Garage) I plan to further the work on this tree as a live sculpture.


Stay tuned for more info!

Would you like to make art with us? There are plenty of opportunities for volunteers, collaborators, and sponsorship. Contact!