SRU to host April 1-2 ‘International Water Filter Conference’


Wukich discussing drinking water filters

(Far left) Richard Wukich, retired Slippery Rock University professor of art, will discuss safe drinking-water filters during the “International Water Filter Conference” April 1-2 at SRU.

March 23, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Some of the world's leading authorities on safe drinking water and ceramic filters will participate in the April 1-2 "International Water Filter Conference" at Slippery Rock University. Richard Wukich, retired professor of art and international coordinator of the Potters Water Action Group, is one of more than 10 potters/humanitarians who are scheduled to present.

Through lectures and live demonstration in SRU's Ceramics Art Building and Weisenfluh Hall, presenters will educate participants about health issues, filtration benefits and the role of the ceramic arts in preventing waterborne disease in underdeveloped countries.

"This conference will present significant insight and opportunities to impact the worldwide health problem of drinking water and create lasting change," Wukich said.

According to the United Nations, 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Six to eight million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases. The World Economic Forum rates the water crisis as the No. 1 global risk based on impact to society.

The conference will be offered from 9:45 a.m. to 6 p.m., April 1, in the Ceramics Studio and Weisenfluh Hall, and from 9:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 2, in Weisenfluh.

Tricia Bishop, assistant professor of art, and Anthony DeRosa, an art education major from Greenville and president of the Potters Guild at SRU, will offer remarks.

Presenters will include Radhames Carela, a Dominican Republic-based potter, and Lisa Ballantine, the former director of FilterPure, a water purification company in the Dominican Republic. They will also be on campus March 30-31 for ceramics demonstrations.

Ballantine developed her passion for creating ceramic filters to address water problems in the Dominican Republic following a yearlong mission trip to the Caribbean nation. She told the Chicago Tribune she had to do something after watching families fill their baby bottles with murky river water that sickened and even killed their children. After taking art courses and learning about how ceramic water filters could provide an inexpensive way to filter water, she and her husband built ceramic water filter factories in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Carela, a local potter, helped start the facilities.

Wukich and Balentine will present a "Water Filter Producer Overview" at 2 p.m., April 1, in the Ceramics Studio.

Other topics will include using ceramic filters to reach rural and indigenous communities in Mexico and Nigeria. Ibukunowluwa Ayoola, a Nigerian-based master potter, is scheduled to present.

Wukich, who taught at SRU from 1968-2011, has traveled to many foreign countries to teach people how to make and use ceramic water filters. CNN's Anderson Cooper interviewed Wukich in 2010.

The Potters Guild at SRU, which is funded by Student Government Association, the International Art Series Committee at SRU, Arts Education at the Hoyt, the New Castle Chapter of the NCAAP, SRU's Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator and transformational experiences led by Brad Wilson, SRU associate provost, are co-sponsoring the workshop.

The Potters Guild at SRU is involved in several programs promoting ceramics. It recently hosted its third annual ceramic mug sale on campus and is also involved in SRU's annual Empty Bowls event.

Potters Water Action Group ( is an organization that strives to provide safe drinking water through education and the use of water filters.

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