POW: Mid-Michigan artist working on sculpture to symbolize Flint water crisis

Published: May. 30, 2017 at 6:39 PM EDT
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(05/30/17) - A Mid-Michigan artist is working on a metal sculpture that will symbolize the Flint water emergency. He plans to show it at Art Prize in Grand Rapids this fall.

For nearly 30 years, Bill Palmer has been working with metal. He's a blacksmith and a metal sculptor. His latest work centers on Flint.

Using a forge to make the steel red hot, Palmer is nearing the end of the work on his sculpture.

"I decided I wanted to use my work to tell the story of what has happened here in Flint," Palmer said.

Some of the sculpture will be ugly, depicting part of a rusty water main.

"I'm actually trying to procure a piece of the pipe that was removed from the system and have that in the base as well with some water in it," Palmer said.

Flowers will spring from the base, representing new life.

"There's hope that things could get better. A beautiful thing could still come out of this," Palmer said.

He's using a 123-year-old power hammer to shape part of the steel.

"It's kind been a mad dash to bring it all together in the last couple of weeks," said Palmer.

Many of the past winners at Art Prize have had compelling back stories that moved those who voted. Palmer hopes his project will cause people to think about the children of Flint.

"They don't have a voice in this matter. That's what really touches me," Palmer said.

If he wins anything at Art Prize, Palmer is willing to donate a portion to an agency that helps Flint children affected by the water emergency.

Voting on Art Prize starts Sept. 21.