a greyscale picture of a book and another open book in front of it

Editors: Ellen McMahon, Ander Monson, & Beth Weinstein


Ground|Water: The Art, Design and Science of a Dry River brings together a diverse community of artists, designers and scientists interested in understanding and raising public awareness about local water and its relationship to global climate. This engaging collection of photographs, graphic design, architectural drawings, artist books, essays and poems by University of Arizona faculty and students is an ode to the dry rivers of Tucson, Arizona. Poems and essays by Nathaniel Brodie, Alison Deming, Allison Dushane, Gregg Garfin, Ander Monson, Logan Phillips and Paul Robbins provide poetic perspectives on the Rillito River; an overview of the region's climate, hydrology and water policy; a comparison between the theory and practice of interdisciplinary research; and a trail of the overlapping roles of science and art in the construction of contemporary concepts of nature from the Romantic period to the present. 

Art and design projects include intercontinental comparisons of arid regions and river systems, finely detailed drawings and photographic series reflecting direct encounters with the local landscape, and collaborations with the Rillito River Project. One scientist in the project describes the ability of these creative projects to "transform messages from the stilted language of scientific literature into rich, multifaceted vocabularies that can be grasped by those interested, but inexpert, in the subject matter." Turning the desecrated and overlooked dry rivers of Tucson into muse and inspiration, this project speaks volumes about community, creativity and responsibility. 

Ground|Water is a work of art in itself, beautifully designed and produced with lush color reproductions, letterpress printed covers and open-sewn binding. 

"There is wisdom as well as beauty in this book, which starts from the premise that we do have choices and that the future brings great promise [… and goes on to encourage] us to examine our own roles in this desert ecosystem and to individually and collectively invest in the social and natural systems that support us."
   — Katherine L. Jacobs, Director of the National Climate Assessment

“It seems an object of art before you even turn a page. Hopefully this is the direction in which bookmaking is headed in the digital age, toward the small-batch and the quirky—something worthy of being called a genuine artifact.”
   — Tim Hull, Tucson Weekly

“I immediately obtained a copy of Ground|Water and found myself holding an artifact that is as ecocritical as one could envision, right down to its physical substance produced and contracted for entirely by writers, artists and print artisans on eco friendly materials, ranging from recycled paper to the vegetable inks, an elegant miscellany of texts, essays, photos and drawings all pertaining to the Rillito as it runs through the metro area.”
   — Harold Fromm, Hudson Review

“We need the arts and humanities now more than ever to help us to filter, sort and absorb the flood of information about global environmental issues brought to us by advances in science and technology. We wanted to increase our own understanding of local water and its relationship to global climate and pass that on to our students.”
   — Ellen McMahon, co-editor

It won the Gold Award in the book category, the Judge's Choice Award and Best in Show in the University & College Designers Association 2013 design competition.