For Immediate Release
November 20, 2010
Michelle Laflamme-Childs, Santa Fe Art Institute,, (505) 424-5050
Jamie Henn,,, (415)-601-9337
Photos will be available by 12:30 PM on:
Video will be available by 2:30 PM on:

Unprecedented FLASH FLOOD Hits West
Over a Thousand Gather in New Mexico, Take Part in First Ever Planetary Art Show

SANTA FE, NM — The Santa Fe Art Institute, in coordination with Bill McKibben’s, spearheaded the New Mexico FLASH FLOOD for a Living River project today, one of more than a dozen global art events, photographed from space, and demanding meaningful climate solutions.
Girl Scouts, church groups, businessmen, students, and over a thousand local citizens stood in the dry Santa Fe riverbed, designated as one of America’s most endangered rivers. The snowmelt feeding the Santa Fe River provides 40% of the water for City of Santa Fe, and as temperatures rise and snow pack dwindles, New Mexico and the entire Western United States face threats of serious ongoing drought, endangering ecosystems, economies, physical and mental health.
“The earth's arid areas are growing steadily dryer; without concerted international action their future is in doubt,” stated Bill McKibben, founder of “Santa Fe’s FLASH FLOOD event is one of the first great examples of vulnerable people demanding to be heard–acting with creativity and beauty, but also with great hope.”
To illustrate their vision for a living river and a sustainable ecosystem, New Mexicans of all ages and faiths carried and flipped blue-painted recycled cardboard and other blue materials composing a visual flash flood in the dry riverbed, and recreating where the Santa Fe River should be flowing.The crowd spanned more than 12,000 sq ft., their chanting heard throughout the Santa Fe neighborhood.  
Santa Fe Mayor David Coss commented, “The Santa Fe River sustains the people, and the people need to sustain the Santa Fe River. This project is a true demonstration of the connection between our community and our river.”

Diane Karp, Director of the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI), says today’s event also showcases the potential bridge between communities of art and politics. “The purpose of our action is not to fix the river because art will not do that,” Karp says, adding, “but art does have the power to reach the hearts and minds of the people who come into contact with it and inspire them into political action.”

The art action and aerial design was visible and documented from outer space via satellite, from helicopter and 150 ft. tall crane by award-winning cinematographer Doug Crawford, and from the ground by still cameras, video cameras, and thousands of individual cell phones. The FLASH FLOOD satellite images will be projected worldwide alongside the 17 other global aerial designs as part of the Cancun Climate Change Summit, November 29 – December 10, 2010.

SFAI coordinated thousands of people to form the art piece within a window of a few seconds while the satellite flew overhead at 17,000 miles per hour taking pictures from 400 miles above the planet’s surface.
“If we could work from space to create a picture of sustainability and a vision of a vibrant desert, our politicians should be able to craft meaningful climate legislation,” says Karp. “Our many languages and cultures, histories and perspectives merge in this community art project, focusing on the Santa Fe River and its importance for us all. Art can make the difference that makes the difference.”
The large coalition of community institutions formed around the FLASH FLOOD project includes:

ARGK Design
Capitol High School
City of Santa Fe
Coalition for Clean and Affordable Energy
Community Farm Santa Fe
DeVargas Middle School
Desert Academy
Earth Care International
EarthWorks Institute
Frenchy’s Field and Commons Community Groups
Girls Go Green
IATSE Local 480
Institute of American Indian Arts
Lemeraux Cranes
McCune Charitable Foundation
Milagro Project
New Energy Economy
New Mexico Arts Commission
New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light
The Redford Institute
River Source
Jim L. Salazar, CFM
Salazar Elementary School
Santa Fe Arts Commission
Santa Fe Business Alliance
Santa Fe Community College
Santa Fe Complex
Santa Fe Congregations
Santa Fe County Trails & Open Spaces
Santa Fe Girls School
Santa Fe Parks Commission
Santa Fe Prep
Santa Fe Reporter
Santa Fe River Commission
Santa Fe University of Art & Design
Santa Fe Trails
Santa Fe Watershed Association
State of New Mexico
Watershed West
WildEarth Guardians
Youth Works

For a complete listing of events and artists participating in the project, please visit:
The Santa Fe Art Institute presents, supports and nurtures art, ideas and artists at the intersections of the Contemporary Arts and Society through residencies, lectures, studio workshops, exhibitions and educational outreach. SFAI is an environment where creativity, innovation, and challenging ideas thrive. uses the internet and creative campaigns to build a grassroots climate movement across the planet. Over the last two years, the campaign has organized more than 15,000 events in 188 countries. is named after the goal of reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere from its current level of 390 parts per million to below 350 ppm, what scientists say is the safe upper limit for the planet. was founded by American writer and environmentalist and a team of college friends in 2008.