​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​23rd Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant​

​WATER Spells​​



Bubble Tank1252https://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Public Art Details Pages/23rd Ave WTP_Water Spells/Wastewater_1.jpgBubble Tankhttps://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=12520x0101009148F5A04DDD49CBA7127AADA5FB792B00AADE34325A8B49CDA8BB4DB53328F21400BC0531F15EF7BD4DA33B67ED47CA6AB0Image
Topiary Garden1253https://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Public Art Details Pages/23rd Ave WTP_Water Spells/Wastewater_2.jpgTopiary Gardenhttps://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=12530x0101009148F5A04DDD49CBA7127AADA5FB792B00AADE34325A8B49CDA8BB4DB53328F21400BC0531F15EF7BD4DA33B67ED47CA6AB0Image
Micro Organism Trail1254https://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Public Art Details Pages/23rd Ave WTP_Water Spells/Wastewater_4.jpgMicro Organism Trailhttps://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=12540x0101009148F5A04DDD49CBA7127AADA5FB792B00AADE34325A8B49CDA8BB4DB53328F21400BC0531F15EF7BD4DA33B67ED47CA6AB0Image
Saguaro Acrylic Sculpture1257https://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Public Art Details Pages/23rd Ave WTP_Water Spells/Wastewater_7.jpgSaguaro Acrylic Sculpturehttps://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=12570x0101009148F5A04DDD49CBA7127AADA5FB792B00AADE34325A8B49CDA8BB4DB53328F21400BC0531F15EF7BD4DA33B67ED47CA6AB0Image
Water Acrylic Sculpture Detail1258https://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Public Art Details Pages/23rd Ave WTP_Water Spells/Wastewater_8.jpgWater Acrylic Sculpture Detailhttps://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=12580x0101009148F5A04DDD49CBA7127AADA5FB792B00AADE34325A8B49CDA8BB4DB53328F21400BC0531F15EF7BD4DA33B67ED47CA6AB0Image
Rain Drip Screen1255https://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Public Art Details Pages/23rd Ave WTP_Water Spells/Wastewater_5.jpgRain Drip Screenhttps://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=12550x0101009148F5A04DDD49CBA7127AADA5FB792B00AADE34325A8B49CDA8BB4DB53328F21400BC0531F15EF7BD4DA33B67ED47CA6AB0Image
Reflection Terrazzo1256https://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Public Art Details Pages/23rd Ave WTP_Water Spells/Wastewater_6.jpgReflection Terrazzohttps://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=12560x0101009148F5A04DDD49CBA7127AADA5FB792B00AADE34325A8B49CDA8BB4DB53328F21400BC0531F15EF7BD4DA33B67ED47CA6AB0Image
Water Acrylic Sculpture1259https://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Public Art Details Pages/23rd Ave WTP_Water Spells/Wastewater_9.jpgWater Acrylic Sculpturehttps://www.phoenix.gov/artssite/MediaAssets/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=12590x0101009148F5A04DDD49CBA7127AADA5FB792B00AADE34325A8B49CDA8BB4DB53328F21400BC0531F15EF7BD4DA33B67ED47CA6AB0Image

ARTIST:  Su-Chen Hung
DATE:  2003
LOCATION:  23rd Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant (please note, this location is no longer accessible to the general public)
​​TYPE:  Sculpture
MATERIALS: Mixed Media 
BUDGET: $520,000
ZIP CODE:  85009


AWARDS: WATER Spells was awarded the Valley Forward Crescordia award for 2001 for the Valley's best public art project.  Even before its completion, this project has served as a national model for educational art projects at wastewater treatment facilities. 

Su-Chen Hung designed her installation to serve as sculptural interpretations of the  water treatment process and the desert environment. The works include:​

  • Rain – This is where the tour begins.  Water drips from nozzles set into the patio roofline, creating the illusion of falling rainwater.  The drops fall into a pool below, creating ripples and soft splashes.  This contemplative piece reminds us of the first step in the life cycle of water, when rain falls to the Earth.
  • WATER – These cast acrylic letters are five feet tall and are as clear as water.  Colorful objects seem to float inside them.  The objects create a time capsule of contemporary life in Phoenix.  They also represent the multitude of objects that are screened out of the wastewater in the first step in the treatment process.
  • Reflection – A wall panel featuring the word “WATER" and several Hohokam symbols for water is cast in terrazzo.  The spotty, fractured look of the terrazzo refers to the grit that settles out of the wastewater in nearby grit chambers.  A cast “reflection" of the wall panel is built into the ground below the wall, giving the illusion of a reflecting pool and celebrating water's reflective quality. 
  • Bubbles – This six-sided acrylic tank is perfectly proportioned to the pre-existing concrete columns it stands among.  The black metal sheath covering the tank has the letters of the word “WATER" cut out of five of its six sides.  Above the letters, bubble-like holes rise towards the top of the tank.  Through the holes, actual bubbles are visible, rising towards the surface of the water.  The bubbles are made by aerators in the bottom of the tank, the same aerators that are used in the aeration basins next to the sculpture.  The aerators blow oxygen into the water to sustain microorganisms that feed on organic waste in the wastewater as part of the treatment process.
  • Bugs – The cast concrete “Bugs" in this playful installation illustrate the lives of the microorganisms that help to process the wastewater.  After feeding on organic waste and oxygen in the aeration basins, the green bugs proceed to the secondary sedimentation basins.  The red bugs, hungry for another meal, make their way back to the aeration basins.
  • Saguaro – The five layers of this cast acrylic sculpture replicate the appearance of the wastewater at five different stages of the wastewater treatment process.  The form of the saguaro cactus, a plant that survives in the desert by storing water, reminds us of the preciousness of water in this desert environment.
  • Growing – This living installation of cacti, succulents, and rosemary spells out “Water" in four languages: English; Spanish; Archaic Chinese; and contemporary Chinese.  This piece celebrates the reuse of organic waste from the wastewater treatment process as an ingredient in fertilizer.​​​