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Weak Stays/Weak Steel: Binding Oil and Water Rights. The Consequence of Contraints

Cynthia Kerby's avatar Cynthia Kerby

This installation “Weak Stays/Weak Steel: Binding Oil and Water Rights. The Consequence of Constraints” was inspired by the Native American fight for water rights, and my own Michigan ancestry that includes lighthouse keepers and a Lake Superior region Ojibwa lineage. My work is articulated in a restrictive garment, the corset—which compresses the body's shape for necessary support, revealing a graceful transition of materials that enable the viewer to realize the beauty and necessity of water while enduring the consequence of constraints imposed by the result of oil production. The hand-crafted corset (with an acrylic painting on canvas by Holly White) showing fresh lake water, was then tipped with black trim. Steel pipes in front join calm lake waters with violent waves, while oil drips at either end. These exposed pipes act as busks (metal clasps) to tighten the corset and shape the body to its desired form, thereby playing a dominant role of restriction by being in full view to reveal the industry’s standards of indifference. The neck binding is made of one corset stay wrapped tightly around it, with black onyx beads changing size as they “snake” upward to show fortitude against this adversity. The Great Lakes hold 20% of the fresh surface water on our planet. These majestic bodies of water are vulnerable to misuse by industry and the indifference of the EPA, causing unchecked environmental consequences. My work examines America’s reluctance to support the Paris Accord and the culpability of the EPA to forever alter our life-giving resources. Today a very dangerous five miles of a 64-year-old pipeline called Enbridge Line 5 lies under the Straits of Mackinac. Researchers found that 16 sections of the pipeline are positioned without support and are shifting with the currents flowing through the Straits. Each day, Enbridge Line 5 carries 23 million gallons of crude oil from Western Canada, drawing it through the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan and into Eastern Canada. The amount of water that flows through the Straits is 10 times that of Niagara Falls. Due to this amount of pressure and the strong currents, 700 miles of the Great Lakes’ shorelines are potentially in danger in the event of an oil spill. Stay informed: http://flowforwater.org and www.oilandwaterdontmix.org

Entry Details
  • Art form: 3-D
  • Depth: 45 inches
  • Medium: Acrylic on canvas, steel, corset stays, metal, fabric, glass, and black onyx.
  • Width: 50 inches
  • Year created: 2018
  • Height: 68 inches