StreamLines, an interactive project that merges art and science to advance the Indianapolis community’s understanding and appreciation of its waterways, will be unveiled Thursday, September 24, at 5:00 PM in Butler University’s Holcomb Gardens.
A visitor to Holcomb Gardens took a sneak peak at StreamLines. (Photo by Mary Miss)

The event, which is open to the public but requires an RSVP, will include environmental visual art by Mary Miss/City as Living Laboratory, musical works by local musical artist Stuart Hyatt a dance performance by Butler University Dance Department choreographed by Professor of Dance Cynthia Pratt. The dance will showcase musical pieces written and recorded for StreamLines. There also will be a poetry reading created for StreamLines and brief remarks from project partners Mary Miss, Dr. John Fraser of and Mark Kesling of The daVinci Pursuit.

StreamLines is the result of a $2.9 million National Science Foundation grant the Center for Urban Ecology at Butler University received to create sites along six Indianapolis waterways where arts and science will be used to educate the public about Indianapolis’s water system.

The project features a collection of dance performances, musical recordings, poetry and visual art tailored for sites along the six Indianapolis waterways of focus to the Reconnecting to Our Waterways collective impact initiative—White River, Fall Creek, Central Canal, Little Eagle Creek, Pleasant Run, and Pogue’s Run. That art created for each site invites the community to learn, explore, and experience the science of local water systems through visual art, poetry, dance, and music.

The project also incorporates an interactive website (, smart phone app and related programming to increase access, enhance interpretation and provide expanded opportunities for learning.

“I’m really happy with the way things turned out,” said Mary Miss, the New York-based artist who designed the installations. “You work on it for so long, and it’s really interesting to see how things come together. As an artist, I feel like there are so many pressing issues about climate change and about water that have to be addressed, and people are not paying attention. How do you get them to be able to relate to these issues instead of being scared by them?”

In the Holcomb Gardens installation, visitors will see a series of red lines, mirrors, backwards words, and a pedestal where they can stand so they can be in the center. All are designed to “provoke curiosity,” Miss said.

“The words give you a sense of what the project is all about,” she said. “They’re written backwards on the ground, so it might get you curious to look up into that mirror.”

Elsewhere, there are poems written on the mirrors and facts about the Indianapolis water system (“Water is essential for transport. Nearly all cities are built along waterways that are used to transport goods from one place to another”). There are even jokes: What is a tree that looks different on both sides? Asymmetry.

Ryan Puckett, a spokesman for the project, said the objective is to inform Indianapolis about its waterways and to understand the impact water has on us, and to recognize the impact we have on water.

“We’re not trying to get somebody a Ph.D. in the science of water,” he said. “We’re trying to go for things like getting people to understand that we all live in a watershed. In Indianapolis, we live in the White River Watershed. When a drop of water hits the ground here, it eventually flows into the White River, which ends up in the Mississippi, which ends up in the Gulf of Mexico, which ends up in the ocean. So that connectivity to all those different waterways shows we can have some impact on the ocean.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan