Public Participation Art

13,699 bottle caps house


Stream of Conscience

A River of Your Words

We’re all downstream! Stream of Conscience is a public-participation art project that culminates in a monumental, site-specific installation that poses a question about water: It can be open-ended, such as “How are words like water?” or a curriculum-related prompt. Participants are invited to write on wave-like shapes of colored, cover-weight paper and then the pieces of paper are used to create a river that flows up and down walls. Stream of Conscience is an opportunity for individual voices to demonstrate the power of collective expression through a river, which symbolizes our interconnectedness with each other and all of life.

Stream of Conscience

For this program, a slide presentation leads participants through multiple layers, scales, and scopes of water topics stepping back first to the global water crisis then zooming in to touch on local concerns. Then work is done with smaller groups in the facilitation of their written contributions. There is always a six-gallon plastic container of water brought in so that the audience can experience the weight of water and imagine carrying it four to eight miles every day.

Thousands of people of all ages and skill levels have contributed to the Stream of Conscience and hundreds of thousands have seen it.  

Slideshows of Stream of Conscience Programs:

Lamprey River Advisory Committee

Marlboro Elementary School

Montshire Museum of Science

New York Aquarium

Peabody Essex Museum

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

University of Idaho

“You wash my secrets and my FEARS and carry them to the ocean.
My secrets and my FEARS reach the ocean and soon they are washed away.
My mind is PURE, my heart renewed. Oh, rushing river.”

Fourth grader, Stream of Conscience