Rebecca Keller: All The Water That Ever Was, Now Is

ON VIEW: April 1 – May 7, 2023

Exhibition Header for Rebecca Keller: All The Water That Ever Was Now Is

Opening reception: Sunday, April 16, 1-4pm. RSVP.

Comprised of large paintings, a sculptural installation, research into agencies that care for our water, and demographic data of the communities that share Lake Michigan water accessible via QR codes, All The Water That Ever Was, Now Is engages the idea of water as a commons, a contended resource and a mutual responsibility. The dialogue touches on livelihoods, access, pollution, wealth, ownership, usage, climate change and fears and obligations for the future.


I asked people to look—really look—at the water and the sky, and used the familiar mechanism of paint samples to gather their impressions. I used the swatches to build up a painting/index of people’s impressions over time. The project began in Maine, was repeated at Lake Michigan and will be reiterated on the Mississippi river.


Clear vessels are carefully filled so the surface tension at the top forms a meniscus... a fragile barrier, keeping the water contained. The color of each vase influences the vessel next to it ---embodying how boundaries and borders may control access and usage but separation is a fantasy when it comes to our shared water.


Conversations about water are also about economics, demographics, social resources and responsibilities. In order to show this complex and dynamic frame of reference, throughout the exhibition labels with QR codes link to organizations studying and protecting area water supplies, US Census data for Evanston, Kenosha, Chicago, Gary and New Buffalo, well as links about quality, access, resources and recreation.


Rebecca Keller is a scholar/artist/writer, recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, two Fulbright awards, the Illinois Arts Council and a TED talk.

She has exhibited her artwork in the US, China and Europe, including at The MCA, Chicago, the Portland Art Museum, Jane Addams Hull House Museum, the Estonian National Museum of Art and many others. Her book about her projects in public historic sites, Excavating History; When Artists Take on Historic Sites was published by Stepsister Press, and her essay “Mazes and Mirrors; Reflections and Play” is published by the Frans Hals museum for The Transhistorical Museum project. Keller’s fiction has won the Betty Gabehart prize and two Pushcart nominations. She was a finalist for the 2013 Chicago Literary Prose award, and her first novel “You Should Have Known” is newly released by Crooked Lane Books/ Penguin Random House.


This exhibition will be held in the Second Floor Atrium Gallery of the Evanston Art Center (EAC). Masks are optional but strongly recommended for students, visitors and staff.

Gallery Hours

Monday–Thursday: 9am–6pm

Friday: 9am–5pm

Saturday–Sunday: 9am–4pm


Artwork sale proceeds benefit both the artist and the Evanston Art Center. If you are interested in purchasing artwork on display, please contact Audrey Avril, Manager of Exhibitions, at [email protected] or (847) 475-5300 x 107.

This project is partially supported by a grant the Illinois Arts Council Agency and EAC's general membership.