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Clean Water

Clean Water, sculpture by Ellen Woodbury

“Clean Water” is my stone sculpture wish for exactly that—embodied by a joyful surfing fish. Where we stand now with clean water is, unfortunately, not so joyful.


Every creature and plant on the Earth needs clean water, whether it is in an ocean, a lake, a river, a stream, or flowing from our kitchen faucet. Moreover, we all want clean water. I don’t know anyone who wants polluted water. We can all agree on one aspect of our lives. Clean water keeps us healthy, which makes us happy. Clean water does not make us sick or sad. It seems so simple.


Our leaders politicize clean water. Those who favor it are called environmentalists, whom our government labels as undesirable. How absurd. We all want and need clean water. (I mentioned that.) How can we see ourselves as “bad” for not wanting polluted water? I don’t want to be sick from drinking the water that comes out of my kitchen tap. How can that idea be viewed as wrong?


Here is the lead sentence from an article in the New York Times, September 13, 2019:

“The Trump administration on Thursday announced the repeal of a major Obama-era clean water regulation that had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands, and other bodies of water.”

Lisa Friedman and Coral Davenport wrote the article “Trump Repeals Obama-Era Rule on Clean Water,” copyright the New York Times.

Our national leaders are attacking our environment. They favor fossil fuel industry profits over your and my need and desire for clean water. They do not care if our drinking water makes us sick, or how many fish and animals die from drinking polluted water. Our leaders do not care how much toxic chemicals are absorbed into our food as it grows in a field.

Division and Manipulation

An idea (clean water) that we all want and need divides us. National leaders do not want us to realize the common needs and concerns we all share. It is divide and conquer, over and over again.   They label environmentalists as bad and then, through association, imply that clean water is bad because it is desirable to environmentalists. How can we accept this as valid? We all want clean water. (I know, I mentioned that.)

Wake Up

Environmentalists are not bad—they want clean water for everybody. They want to curb chemical pollution, keep plastics out of our oceans, and promote sustainable energy production to clean up our water, land, and air. This is a positive step forward for every person, plant, and animal on Earth.  We all win.

Why are we not together on this?

Andes Blue Onyx

This opulent stone is Andes Blue Onyx, found in only one quarry on the planet located 13,000 feet up in the Andes Mountains of Argentina.   Blue Onyx color varies from deep blue to blue-green to yellow.   The small boulder from which “Clean Water” is carved has a glorious abundance of blue—a rare color in any stone.

This is one of the trickiest stones I carve. The crystals are long, multi-sided, and brittle. Different colors have varying degrees of hardness so there is no consistency to the amount of pressure one can exert with a tool. The stone can break along any of the lines of changing color, so one must be careful every step of the way.  I coax the forms from the stone by grinding, rather than cutting.

The Up Side

Blue Onyx is quite translucent so one can see down into the stone, and it is mesmerizing. The ancient breaks and reformations are fascinating and humbling to contemplate. The experience of carving this stone creates for me an awe and respect for our Earth. I am inspired to heal our planet and cherish our lives. We all need clean water. We can do this together.

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Clean Water

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  1. I saw your dynamic sculpture Clean Water recently at the RTP showing…it was hard to keep back the tears as I walked through the rooms of this event.

    • George, thanks for your comment. I cried many tears during the making of “Clean Water”. I am so sad for the destruction of our natural world and all who live in it. Every day seems to bring more bad news than good news about the crisis of our endangered species and habitats. I devote a huge amount of my art to the plight of endangered species and I donate money to organizations that save those animals represented in my stone sculptures when the sculpture sells. I must put my money where my mouth is and try my damnedest to save them.

  2. Congrat, I love the sculpture and the meaning of it that inspire you to do it. I completely agree with you for the need to change our attitude towards the environment. Thanks for sharing your ways of carving and of thinking! Best,

    • Thanks, Fortuna! I feel very strongly that we all need to take positive steps to save our world and all who live here. Not just people, but animals, plants, our water and air. We are losing so much due to our inaction and over-consumption.