By Eric Herman
Throughout recorded history, great societies have built monuments to celebrate their victories, commemorate their tragedies and express their guiding ideals. Through creation of these great works of art or through preservation of sites of natural beauty and/or historical significance, we continue to create monuments to this day.
Monuments remind us of the sacrifices and achievements others have made to forge the world in which we live. They inspire courage, fortitude, inventiveness, wisdom and compassion. They serve as emblems that provoke us to meaningful reflection, appreciation, meditation and hope.
To be sure, monuments come in all shapes and sizes – from the imposing Taj Mahal to Maya Lin’s intimate Vietnam War Memorial – but most can be placed in one of two basic categories: They are structures that commemorate a person, event or idea, or they are places preserved for their beauty, artistry or historic significance.
In both categories, we find monuments that make inspired use of broad sets of aesthetic ideas and artistic influences. We see the use of sculpture, painting, architecture, lighting, stonework, landscaping, inscription – and, in so many cases, the wondrous presence of still and/or moving water.
It is in monuments, in fact, that water assumes some of its greatest shapes. No matter the scope, type or scale of the monument, water’s reflective qualities, compelling sounds and ever-changing appearance lend interest and meaning across a huge (and perhaps even infinite) spectrum of design concepts.
Given this potential for aquatic monumentality, we decided for our special Third Anniversary Issue to explore some of the most elevated and inventive applications of the watershaping arts to be found anywhere on the planet:
[ ] Our journey begins in the heartland of America with a stop in Kansas City, the self-styled (and legitimately so) “City of Fountains.” In this feature, watershape consultant Curt Straub describes the city’s use of fountains as landmarks that both beautify the urban environment and lend the place much of its civic identity.
[ ] Next, we head west to a spot near WaterShapes’ home base in Southern California: The Getty Center. Here, publisher Jim McCloskey guides an imaginative tour of this spectacular facility, where water is used in various creative and inspirational ways to make distinctive artistic and symbolic statements.
[ ] That piece is followed by an insightful discussion by watershaper and WaterShapes columnist David Tisherman of one of his favorite places: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pa. Here, Tisherman explains how water, architecture and nature come together to create an awesome treasure of American architecture.
There are more examples of watershapes we had originally planned to include in this package, but they all proved so detailed that space would not allow us to cover them all with the depth we saw as necessary. So after much consideration, we decided to split the package in two – and you’ll be treated to appreciations of three additional “Monuments of Watershaping” in our January 2002 issue.
Preparing these articles for print has been an exciting process, and we think you’ll enjoy the pictorial journey we’ve invited you to take with us. We also hope you’ll be inspired to hit the road and see some of these places and watershapes for yourselves.
They’re all available for public viewing and represent work at a caliber that has made those who have written about them proud and happy to line up behind this simple statement: It is truly fantastic to work in a business capable of bringing this much wonder, joy and beauty to the world.