Riverwork Project is a monumental scale panoramic textile artwork referencing human and water resources. It encompasses a visually vernacular architecture of thought about rivers and associations to water. Comprised of 300 feet of pliable sections of sewn, layered, hand-stenciled and painted cloth, the work lies on the ground plane or hangs on walls.
Construction techniques and visual vocabulary bend geometry and symbol, becoming both shorthand and elaboration of popular cultural tropes carrying meanings which derive from populist, scientific, romantic, historic ideas, and depictions of water and rivers. The segments, like currents flowing, carry visual messages and surprise.
Themes include immigration and settlement, Native Americans, agriculture, cotton production, Western frontier, slave commerce, underground railroad, cities, transportation, hydroelectric power, advancing technologies, fish, wildlife, plants, geography, climate, music, literature, film, dreams, memories, reflections, seasons, and light. Personal symbols or pure abstraction is represented as art leaping into the socio-ecological pool. Media include digital printing, mono-prints, photography, painting, dyeing, sewing, and surface design.
Riverwork Project was designed to include and reflect our diverse population, with participation across disciplines. More than 70 invited artists -- female, male, elderly, young, black, white, student, professional, academics -- each contributed a small piece, suggesting new thought and insight.
Riverwork Project is a catalyst, a project encouraging community conversations, connecting interested art curators, institutions, writers, water and river scientists, socio-ecologists, and community groups. National Great Rivers Education and Research Center, The Audubon Center at Riverlands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at National Great Rivers Museum and the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton, IL are current collaborators. East St. Louis Riverfront and City/Arch/River installations are pending.