These Artists Are Using Smelly Soil Samples As Their Medium—Find Out Why.

June 14, 2016Posted by Linda Hernandez

These unique works of art display beautiful depictions of life from a source considered to be “dead.”

In the Philippines’ capital city of manila, artists have collaborated to create watercolor paintings using polluted river water for a “Dirty Watercolor” exhibit, which reveal everyday scenes near the Pasig river. Many of them are of children swimming and playing in the water.

Today, people continue to live alongside and swim in these waterways, which have been deemed “biologically dead” and incredibly unsafe for more than a decade.

The artists faced the task of gathering up smelly soil samples to use as their medium, which contained high bacteria levels. The samples were then sterilized and concentrated into colored pigments to be used in the creation of these watercolor artworks.

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“Although the pigments have already been decontaminated, the smell of the sludge was still present, so that was a big challenge for us artists,” said JC Vargas, one of the commissioned artists.

The brush strokes of brown, black, grey, and burnt sienna serve as a gritty reminder of the dangers lurking in the toxic waters of these shanty towns.

“Showing the people who enjoy the water and, at the same time, are not aware of that danger of swimming in polluted water, should make us aware of the need to keep the Pasig alive,” said Cid Reyes, the exhibit’s curator.

The works range in price from $800-2600, and proceeds are being donated to the rehabilitation of Manila’s polluted waterways via ABS-CBN’s Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation.

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