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Basia Irland, Desert Fountain

On view in the West Atrium

sculpture garden 2020

Basia Irland
born 1946 Fort Smith, Arkansas; lives Albuquerque, New Mexico
Desert Fountain
cast bronze, granite
Albuquerque Museum, museum purchase, 1997 General Obligation Bonds

Desert Fountain sheds light on the scarcity of water in the Southwest. When the fountain is dry, as it often is; the viewer is faced with a stark and poignant scene. Seeing this parched fountain, along with etched lines on the ground where the water would otherwise run, is a wake-up call and a reminder to value this resource and never take it for granted. A river is etched onto the bronze surface through the middle of the arms referencing the rivers that flow through the natural world. On the lower arm, an ancient astronomical drawing references the moon’s influence on tidal waters and the interconnectedness of the environment.

When it rains or snows, water is collected on the museum’s roof and channeled through a gutter into a 50-gallon tank, then through copper tubing into the first of the cast bronze hands, pouring over the other two arms and into the stone basin. The overflow then streams toward the drain in the middle of the patio. If the roof tank fills to capacity, the water will take approximately thirty hours to flow through the fountain.