Friday, April 22, 2016

An artist and his solar-powered vision

A positive vision is being realized this afternoon with the museum opening of the SunGlacier solar-powered art project in The Hague.  I was introduced to Ap Verheggen about four years ago, and my first impression was some kind of crazy and loud Dutch artist wearing big glasses, big humor and a big imagination. He turned out to be all these things and our neighbor.

In the three plus years that I’ve been working with my good friend toward the launch of this project, I have seen his consistent optimism, fascination with natural forces and innovative vision of “what if we could do that?” He’s a guy who airlifted sculptures onto a drifting iceberg in Greenland, designed a system to build a glacier in a desert, and has a drive for searching for positive solutions in what seem like bleak situations. There have been many late-night discussions outside on our street in The Hague about how to use natural resources and climate changes for human benefit. 

It has been interesting so far to say the least. Ap and I have met with governments, big companies, organizations, media, rock stars and royalty to try to build support for this solar-powered atmospheric water production that could be a real step to help people in dry, off-grid communities. We have found both encouragement and disappointment in surprising places. Ap gets downright frustrated when he sees lack of action from people in power who can make a positive difference, and he somehow turns this into motivation to capture ideas on adapting to a changing planet.

The sculpture prototype DCO1 of the SunGlacier project will be presented today, on Earth Day, at MuseumBeelden aan Zee. People can now come see and touch an idea that was born from wanting to do something different and better. While the SunGlacier project is not intended to be the one solution to water resource needs, it can show, in Ap’s words, that we need to “see things from a different perspective” because “climate change = culture change” in many ways. This museum exhibition is only the start, and we’re looking forward to seeing the project in other world locations to be built upon and keep exploring possibilities.

It’s art as a way to interact with nature, and as is unique because only solar is used to produce water from air. A well-deserved congratulations goes to Ap for sticking to his vision through a jagged and twisted road of work to see it in reality!  Let’s see where this leads from here.

For more information on the project: