Diversions are unplanned, unexpected and, with any luck, a delightful surprise. The one thing I’ve noticed is, they often end up teaching you something, too. You don’t necessarily plan on a diversion being educational, but when you find yourself diverting to something on a university campus, you have to expect to learn something.
That was the case with Wave Pool. A friend has created this one-and-a-half acre site on the campus of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. It’s part of a sculpture walk on the campus. I’m not sure about the other works, but this one has a really interesting premise.
Brad Eilering, the sculptor and my friend, is an architect by trade. He’s been channeling his inner artist through painting, photography, drawing and other mediums. With Wave Pool he’s moved to a larger scale. Brad is also something of an outdoorsman; he fly fishes, bikes and enjoys just being out in nature. That makes him something of an anomaly, so when he had the chance to combine all of his interests, he was happy to jump on it.
That’s how Wave Pool was born. It’s a large scale artwork with a scientific purpose. “Toxic chemicals contained in discarded plastic that finds its way into the ocean via storm sewers and rivers accumulate in the food chain, including fish consumed by humans. The solution lies in managing our waste, cleaning the oceans and finding an alternative material,” Brad explains. He wants to show that our seemingly inconsequential actions or habits have an impact on nature far beyond what we realize.
The sculpture looks like a bunch of posts in a field with blue plastic caps. The posts are data points. Their height is derived from the volume of waste flowing into the circular ocean currents. It’s a way to bring science to the public through a visualization of data.
From all accounts, awareness in ocean pollution is growing. Today, just before writing this, two different friends of mine posted pictures of trash they had picked up on beach walks … on opposite sides of the country!
You can visit Wave Pool anytime. It’s outside and doesn’t cost a thing. It’s set on a ball park style grid with paved walkways that access the mowed grass. You’ll see rye grass at the base of the timber posts that is being allowed to grow to show the passage of time.
The changing seasons and weather will certainly impact Wave Pool, but that is intentional.
It’s interesting to realize we learn more than we think about when we travel. With this diversion, that was particularly true. Sculpture gardens, environmental sites, green spaces … no matter what attracts your eye, make the most of it.