Greeley’s Ditch #3 was the first of its kind in the country, and played a big part in our history (and in water rights across the country).  Students in the University of Northern Colorado’s School of Art & Design collaborated with Zero-Craft Corp. to create an art exhibition featuring pieces created during a one-week workshop at various points along Ditch #3. It’s called “Big Ditch” and it will be on display from December 1-8 at the Oak Room Gallery on the UNC campus.

Why did they choose Ditch #3? According to Lynn Cornelius of UNC’s School or Art and Design, “This project came to be through student research of Ditch #3, which is incredibly significant to Greeley’s history, agricultural richness, and the shaping of water rights in Colorado and throughout the country. The ditch runs through the City of Greeley and can be seen both in rural areas as well as in bustling neighborhoods, and is highly visible, yet is often overlooked. We started to consider its significance to the workings of the City, and also as a large scale site for Land Art that we could address in multiple ways. Those ways include collecting found objects for assembled sculptural pieces in the gallery, creating a series of “glyphs” in which evidence of the collection of those objects could be communicated in a municipal language of mark-making to map those locations, cataloguing and documenting the objects, an interactive geo-tagging system, and aerial video footage of those on-site markings.”

This project came to fruition after Cornelius and Andrew Liccardo, also of UNC’s School of Art and Design, met with the City of Greeley and the Greeley Creative District to determine potential sites for this and future projects. Their hope was to find different ways to engage the Northern Colorado landscape in the context of a multi-year collaborative Land Art class. This would be a way for students to interact with local history, the natural and manufactured environment, municipal entities, and other artists. They also partnered with art and design team, Zero-Craft Corp., who led students through a week-long intensive workshop culminating in the “Big Ditch” exhibition in the Oak Room Gallery.

The opening reception for “Big Ditch” is Friday, December 1, 2017, from, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Oak Room Gallery in Crabbe Hall (1741 8th Ave, Greeley, CO). The gallery exhibit will also be open to enjoy December 1-8, Monday-Friday from 11am-1pm. (It is FREE and open to the public.)

So, take a trip over to UNC, and see what kind of unexpected art these hard-working students were able to make out of objects found along Ditch #3. And learn a little about Greeley’s water history while you’re at it.

This won’t be the only creation that comes from the partnership either, UNC’s School of Art and Design will continue their collaboration with Zero-Craft Corp., the City, and the Greeley Creative District as they consider a project for the Fall 2018 semester.

In some places, you might expect to find a creative district, a city, and a university working together…but here in Greeley, it’s just another example of relational excellence.

From UNC’s Press Release:

Over the course of the Fall 2017 semester multidisciplinary art and design team, Zero-Craft Corp. led students through the design process as it applies to the creation of land art. Students experienced a hands-on workshop in UNC’s Xeric Gardens, the study of critical and historic contexts of land art, a studio exploration of “boundaries” as they relate to land art and landscape architecture, and a site-based workshop entitled BIG DITCH which includes all public access sites along Greeley #3 Ditch within Greeley city limits. In preparation for BIG DITCH, students researched the complex history of Ditch #3 in, which was the first of its kind in the country, leading the way to help shape contemporary water rights.

For the BIG DITCH workshop, students collaborated with ZCC in the collection, categorization and assemblage of objects found along the #3 Ditch. The locations and profiles of these objects were marked through a codified system of “glyphs” installed on site. The glyphs used for BIG DITCH were designed to directly reference a municipal system of mark making through gesture and color. Students catalogued the objects collected along the #3 Ditch through photographs, drawings and geo-tagging to present the scope of the BIG DITCH project in the Oak Room Gallery.

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