NEW YORK — Dozens of water tanks across the city will soon be covered in artwork by both local artists and superstars like Jeff Koons as part of a nonprofit's project to raise awareness about water issues.
Word Above the Street, a nonprofit that promotes environmental awareness through art, plans to use about a hundred of the city's 12,000 water tanks as part of its inaugural display for The Water Tank Project, a spokeswoman for the project said.
The project, which started earlier this month and will last until the end of October, aims to be part art exhibit and part awareness campaign about sustainability and access to clean drinking water, according to the project’s website.
“We picked water tanks that had the best visibility and that were in the highest traffic areas,” said Mitra Khorasheh, the curatorial associate of the project.
Each tank will be wrapped in a large canvas banner printed with artwork that focuses on water.
Five water tanks in Manhattan — three in Chelsea, one in SoHo and one in the Financial District — have already gotten the Water Tank Project treatment. The one by Laurie Simmons, at 525 W. 28th St., features a photo of one of her famous dolls wearing a red swimming suit and diving into water, while the one by Italian illustrator Lorenzo Petrantoni, at 393 West Broadway, shows a large shell on a blue background.
Dozens more are set to pop up in the coming weeks throughout the five boroughs, though the locations are kept secret until the artwork appears. The organization worked for about two years to find the tanks and get permission from the Department of Buildings and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, a spokeswoman said.
The Water Tank Project was started by filmmaker Mary Jordan, who realized the challenges that many people face when trying to find clean water while she worked on a film in Ethiopia in 2007. She founded the project to raise awareness around water scarcity and to change the way people look at water consumption, a spokeswoman said.
Participants were asked to comply with the city’s rules: no nudity, no advertising and no obscenity.
Along with world-famous artists, five New York City public high school students who won a competition earlier this summer will also have their artwork displayed. Their names will be announced in September, a spokeswoman for the project said.