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Water Rhythms

Paolo Arao

Susie Ibarra / Michele Koppes

October 30 – December 19, 2021

Opening Reception

Saturday, October 30

6-8 pm


Paolo Arao

First Breath (for Pia)


Sewn cotton, corduroy, canvas, acrylic and colored pencil

68h x 55w in

Fridman Gallery is pleased to announce Water Rhythms, an exhibition at its Beacon location, presenting a recent series of sewn paintings by Paolo Arao and an eponymous multi-channel sound installation by Susie Ibarra and Michele Koppes. 

Paolo Arao’s textile works are pieced and sewn from handcrafted and found fabrics, such as drop cloths, second-hand clothing, and traditional weavings from his native Philippines. The resulting works resemble flags or quilts, mapping and embodying histories of the people and places from which they came. Reflecting Arao’s background as a concert pianist, his patterns recall chord progressions and may be read as graphic scores. 

The sound installation Water Rhythms is a collaboration between composer, percussionist, and sound artist Susie Ibarra and glaciologist, geographer, and climate scientist Michele Koppes. Presented here for the first time as a 14-channel spatial soundscape mixed by Senem Pirler and engineered by Jake Landau, the sonic material is composed of field recordings of five global watersheds, from the Greenland Ice Sheet to glacier-fed rivers in the Himalayas. The installation is accompanied by a video collage of abstracted maps of these water towers and poetic descriptions of the project.

The exhibition highlights the environmental destruction caused by industrial production, and explores traditional handmade practices such as fiber arts and deep listening, which can alleviate the unintended consequences of unchecked globalization. Water Rhythms is the story of climate change as told by water and fabric.

Paolo Arao is a Filipino-American artist working with textiles and painting. He received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Arao’s work was recently the subject of a solo exhibition at the Columbus Museum in Georgia and is currently on view in Abstranded: Fiber and Abstraction in Contemporary Art at The Everson Museum in Syracuse, NY. Arao has participated in many artist residencies, including Art Omi, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, The Museum of Arts and Design (NYC), and MASS MoCA. He is a 2021 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Painting. Arao lives and works in Brooklyn and West Shokan, NY. 
Susie Ibarra is a Filipinx composer, percussionist, and sound artist working to preserve indigenous music and culture. She creates immersive experiences through sound to invite people to connect to their natural and built environments. Ibarra is a 2020 National Geographic Explorer Storyteller, a 2019 Doris Duke Fellow in Music, a Senior TED Fellow, and 2019 Asian Cultural Council Research Fellow. Recent commissions include Talking Gong on New Focus Recordings, Pulsation for Kronos Quartet’s 50 for the Future, and Fragility Etudes for her DreamTime Ensemble for the 2021 Asia Society Triennial. Ibarra currently lives and works in New Paltz, NY. 
Michele Koppes is a Canada Research Chair in Landscapes of Climate Change, an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of British Columbia, the Director of the Climate and Cryosphere Lab, and a Senior TED Fellow. Her passion is understanding how glaciers and  landscapes respond to climate change, and their impacts on waterscapes and people. She spends much of her time exploring and collecting the stories of changing ice and water in remote and hard to reach places all over the world, from the mountains of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to Patagonia, the Himalayas, the Tien Shan, Greenland and Antarctica. Koppes is based in Vancouver, BC. 


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Friday, December 10, 2021


6:30 pm

Paolo Arao and Susie Ibarra will be discussing their work in the exhibition Water Rhythms, which includes a recent series of sewn paintings by Arao and an eponymous multi-channel sound installation by Ibarra and Michele Koppes.

Friday, December 10, 2021


The Howland Cultural Center

477 Main Street | Beacon, NY

8:30 pm

The duet musically explores meditations on our connection to water and is inspired by Water Rhythms, a multi-channel sound installation by Susie Ibarra and Michele Koppes on view at Fridman Gallery.

Susie Ibarra and Michele Koppes
Water Rhythms: Listening to Climate Change

Multi-channel sound installation with video
Dimensions variable


Paolo Arao


Sewn cotton, canvas, acrylic, felt, nylon, colored pencil
33h x 27w x 1.25d in


Paolo Arao

Aubergine Queen

Sewn cotton, canvas, nylon, hand woven fibers, corduroy, denim
36h x 45w x 1.5d in


Paolo Arao

Graphic Score

Sewn cotton, canvas, acrylic, felt, denim, nylon
33h x 27w x 1.25 in

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