The UNB Art Centre’s Water Day Exhibit: “Reflections,” features dazzling works from twenty-eight artists from New Brunswick reflecting on what water means to them.


The World Water Day series has been running at the UNB Art Centre every year for the past twelve years. The importance of this event and awareness of the world’s water supply was expressed by the opening speaker at the “Reflections” launch: Green Party MLA David Coon.


Coon recalled an anecdote about the surprise people felt when they learned about acid rain, comparing it to the anxiety that many feel over the growing acidity of our oceans:


“So that’s a bit terrifying,” Coon said with a chuckle. 


Maria Maltais, the Director of the UNB Art Centre, echoed Coon’s sentiment describing how shocking it is that people are so thoughtless with their water. Maltais expressed concern about the levels of plastic, pollution, and contamination in world water sources like the ocean. So the theme of this year’s World Water Day Exhibit “Reflections” is to encourage more awareness of the dangers threatening our water supply.


Maltais described how difficult it was to select the twenty-eight artists featured in “Reflections.” The UNB Art Centre received submissions from seventy-eight artists from around the Maritimes. Maltais narrowed the selections by selecting the artists she felt truly reflected the role of water in their life, looking for “art that’s about something” rather than visually appealing alone. 


All the pieces ultimately selected from “Reflections” were from New Brunswick artists. Maltais confirmed that the New Brusnwicker bias was not intentional, and it just happened that the best pieces, in her mind, were from the Picture Province—although it is unsurprising that a maritime province linked so closely with oceans, rivers, and bogs would produce such powerful aquatic reflections.


The pieces in “Reflections” are incredibly diverse. Sculptures, paintings, prints, and even intricate artwork comprised of sand spread across the floor with lines cut through it and bowls full of water. 


Some of the pieces in “Reflections” are empowering, showing water as a beautiful and rejuvenating force. Other pieces warn against the growing corruption of our water sources with intricate symbols. Many of the sculptural pieces incorporate plastics, both for their malleability in imitating water and for the danger that plastics pose to our oceans. Several pieces are in video form as well, offering a more directly engaging reflection on water and its properties.


“Reflections” occupies the East and West galleries of the UNB Art Centre, located in Memorial Hall on UNB’s campus. Admission to the exhibition is free, and “Reflections” is scheduled to stay at the Art Centre until April 28th, so be sure not to miss a uniquely New Brunswick reflection on World Water Day.

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