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Hidden River

Fairmount Water Works Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1990

Collection of the Philadelphia Water Department


Galvanized pipe, porcelain sinks, running water, sandblasted glass


22' long x 10' wide x 24" deep

Schuylkill means hidden river in Dutch. For me, the hidden river is also the amount of plumbing that runs though our houses carrying treated water to taps and toilets. Four sinks represent the cities that attain their primary drinking water from the Schuylkill. These are hung on the wall scaled to each city’s elevation. The plumbing connecting each sink is an accurate map of the Schuylkill River from point Girard on the Delaware River.

Each upstream sink is connected to the downstream sink’s cold water tap by its drain pipe: a translation of the fact that the Schuylkill has been emptied three times before Philadelphia fills its glasses. The water in the sculpture circulates through all the sinks, filling the room with sounds of running water reminding us that our drinking water is only borrowed before returning to the system.

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