Last year, a Yale study found that Latinx communities are especially ready to take action on climate change. Inspired by this collective will, and committed to growing our practices in equity and inclusion, we partnered with King County Water and Land Resources Division’s Stormwater Services Section to creatively engage local Latinx communities. We invited Spanish-speaking artists to apply for a new role in the Stormwater Section: Artist in Residence. This month, we’re thrilled to announce that Hernan Paganini was awarded this unique commission and has already begun work centering art in fostering dialogue and environmental change.
But first: what is stormwater? In forests, fields, and wetlands, rain water seeps into the ground and gets filtered naturally. However, in urban environments, rain water falls on hard surfaces and collects pollutants—this is stormwater. The polluted water eventually ends up in the Puget Sound, and while we may not realize it, most of us contribute to it every day.
In the coming year, Hernan will work closely with 4Culture, Stormwater Section staff, and King County Latinx communities to raise awareness and offer insights about stormwater. “We are delighted to welcome Hernan as our first community-focused Artist in Residence,” says Tamar Benzikry, 4Culture’s Senior Public Art Manager. “As the grandson of Argentinian farmers and builders, Hernan brings a love of earth and craft to all that he does. The son of an engineer and school teacher, he also brings passion for both science and education. And as a sculptor and collage artist, he combines the lessons of generations before him to craft community-based artworks—all over the world, and now in King County.”
Born in Zárate, Argentina, Hernan studied and taught Graphic Design at the Buenos Aires University. He has participated in international Artist Residencies and exhibited works at multiple art fairs, biennales and shows around the world. In 2012, he launched a nomadic school workshop called Viaje en Barco. The project ran for five years across institutions in Latin America and Europe, and engaged both children and adults in art making and the natural environment. After completing an Artist Residency at Facebook in the end of 2017, Hernan moved to Seattle and we’re proud that this residency is one of his first projects in King County!
Over the coming months, Hernan will visit stormwater-related work sites all over King County and spend time in his new county cubicle. His goals: learn as much as possible, collaborate and strategize with Section staff, and ultimately produce art experiences with Latinx communities that will help us all better understand Stormwater and runoff, and what we can do to help.
Reflecting on his career, Hernan says that, “The gestures inside my work put into the light three simple facts: nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect.” As Latinx communities take a leading role in caring for our changing environment, Hernan’s artistic vision will be vital on a local level and beyond. Check back here and on social media to follow along and get involved!