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Students turn thoughts on water conservation into art

Students turn thoughts on water conservation into art
Nancy (Siyang) Lang, a Century High School senior, was named one of four semi-finalists on Wednesday in a regional high school art contest to promote water conservation.

A Century High School senior hopes her art that depicts how valuable clean water is to other cultures will help Minnesotans realize how important it is to them.

Nancy (Siyang) Yang was named the top of four regional semifinalists Wednesday in the seventh annual "Water is Life" contest. The competition is put on by the Freshwater Society, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting all water resources, and Minnesota's Service Cooperatives.

The reception was held at the Southeast Service Cooperative in Rochester. The region had 23 entries this year, ranging from photography to pieces drawn with colored pencil.

"The point of this contest is to encourage our students, particularly high school students, to recognize, appreciate and protect our fresh water," said Dick Riley, the contest's regional coordinator.

Increases in human population, development and contamination are putting a strain on surface and ground waters, the Freshwater Society says. Conservation is the best tactic to ensure fresh water resources are kept for future generations. 


Semifinalists now join 28 other high school students in the statewide contest. Six winners will be chosen May 4 during a reception at the Gray Freshwater Center in the Lake Minnetonka area. Winners receive $500 and will have their piece displayed at the state capitol and elsewhere.

Yang's piece is a fountain made from red clay pottery that depicts three women of different cultures, holding water bowls on their heads. The African woman represents a part of the world where, Yang learned, water is so valuable the word "rain" is used as a blessing. The Indian woman represents those who walk on foot daily to bring fresh water to their families. A Native American woman represents the ancient Pueblo culture who made carvings in stones to direct others to water sources.

"Water flows through this fountain. Some of it leaks through holes in the sides, representing how water is at times wasted or lost, but most of it flows as if through the figures and out of spouts from their hands, to show how water cycles through people and returns to the earth," Yang wrote in her artist statement.

Water conservation can be an abstract concept, so putting it into a visual context through an art contest can help people understand the issue, said Katie Schmitt, a program assistant at the co-op, who was one of the judges.

The other semi-finalists are Andrew Betzolt of Kasson-Mantorville High School, second place; Alex Kline of Winona Senior High School, third place and Olivia Grev of Austin Senior High School, fourth place.

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