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The Magic Ion, November 2022 at the CVA Jeld-Wen Gallery, Southern Oregon University

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Exhibition text: "Lithium, nicknamed the magic ion, is a source of stability.  In even small amounts of drinking water, it is positively associated with improved community health, specifically reducing rates of suicide and violent crime.  In an individual, it can regulate mood disorders and reduce suicidal thought.   Lithium is now considered a crucial solution in a fossil fuel dependent world transitioning to renewable energy. 

 

The processes used to mine Lithium or extract it from underground brine pools have similar humanitarian impacts to other extractive industries, namely displacement, pollution, and the destruction of ecosystems. This element can become fatally toxic if ingested by an individual at too high a dose.

 

Ashland’s mineral springs, bubbling up in Lithia Park, have an extremely high concentration of Lithium.  This installation explores how Lithium has the potential to be as life giving as the fantasy of the Fountain of Youth; how it could slow the heating of our planet; it’s magical materiality as it moves through vibrant brine evaporation pools changing color from blue to green to yellow as it gets more saturated; how it’s presence has contributed to the communities living on this land throughout time; and how it’s sulfuric smell overpowers all this and remains the main identifier of our local attraction. 

 

Special thanks to the following individuals who helped me comprehend and unpack all the ways that Lithium plays a role in both the solutions and the issues we face: 

 

Donnie Maclurcan, Professor of Economics

 

Dustin Walcher, Director of Social Sciences and Professor of History and Political Science

 

Helena Turner, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner 

 

Anna Oliveri, Professor of Chemistry"

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Wall text:

"What does Ashland’s Lithia Water taste like?

 

During the summer months, flyers were posted around Lithia Park asking park goers to send in their responses to the question ‘What does Ashland’s Lithia Water taste like?’.  These unedited responses, each an individual’s experience of Ashland’s Lithia Water, were then sculpted into three dimensional letters using handmade lithia salt dough; made of salt, flour, and Ashland’s Lithia water.  

 

Send me your description @541-708-9420

 

materials: Lithia Salt Dough (Ashland Lithia Water, salt, flour), salvaged oak boards, crowdsourced descriptions"

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Wall text:

"Pure and Wholesome;

Unexcelled as Table Water;

Of rare merit medicinally.

 

This fountain and collection of paintings are based in historical documents about the early push for Ashland to be a health springs destination; artistic depictions of the Fountain of Youth; the aesthetics and processes of Brine Extraction Mining; contemporary viral ideas about lithium batteries and the provocative allure of future technology; mapping the distribution of mineral springs in the state of Oregon; and the significance of water in the psychiatric and industrial applications of Lithium.  

 

materials: water, pumps, found objects, 

Lithia Salt Dough, plaster, plywood"

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