SEE WATER: Watershed Cairns and Riverwork Project Reflects Artfully on Our Rivers and Waterways

By Anne Murphy, Communication Specialist St. Louis Artists’ Guild

We live at the confluence of two rivers – the Missouri and the Mississippi. The Mississippi River is third largest watershed in the world and one of the world’s busiest rivers. It floods and recedes. It changes course. It gives life – and takes it away. Every day we notice its beauty and might. Or do we?

The St. Louis Artists’ Guild presents SEE WATER: WATERSHED CAIRNS AND RIVERWORK PROJECT, an installation that reflects the environmental character of our rivers and waterways. This exhibit opens April 22, Earth Day, with a FREE reception and gallery talk at the Artists’ Guild’s new location at 12 N. Jackson and Forsyth in Clayton.

“To see Water’s trail is to experience a revelation. Through watershed we see our connection to the Mississippi River in a very real way,” says Libby Reuter, artist and environmentalist. She and photographer Josh Rowan, created the body of work for WATERSHED CAIRNS by trekking to specific locations to build and then photograph fragile glass constructions (cairns) to mark the landscape where water makes its unseen journey at creeks and storm sewers in neighborhoods.

The idea of creating a long textile artwork to accompany WATERSHED CAIRNS developed over lunch between Reuter and Sun Smith-Foret, her friend of 40+ years, last spring.

“We wanted people to ponder the many meanings of Water in all its forms and all its implications for life on the planet – environmental, physical, intellectual, spiritual,” says Smith-Foret. “My fiber artwork for the last 15 years has been about film. I simply extended into the theme of Water by textually referencing films, songs, literary works about rivers.”

And so RIVERWORK PROJECT, a visually flowing, multi-layered cloth artwork began. Highly collaborative, it includes individual cloth pieces that were painted, stitched, or quilted by more than 100 makers. Like a puzzle, these pieces were worked into large embellished units, creating dozens of vast segments that, when placed end-to-end, exceed the length of a football field.

SEE WATER: WATERSHED CAIRNS AND RIVERWORK PROJECT opens on April 22, Earth Day, with a FREE reception 5 – 8pm. Gallery talk at 6:30pm. This exhibit is on view through May 12. In partnership: Celebrating Art for Senior EngAGEment, Project Clear, and The Healthy Planet Magazine. For more about SEE WATER, its related programs, and the St. Louis Artists’ Guild, visit www.stlouisartistsguild.org.

A St. Louis treasure since 1886, the St. Louis Artists’ Guild is a significant contributor to the cultural environment of the greater St. Louis region. This year marks its 130th birthday. It’s located at 12 N. Jackson Avenue at the corner of Forsyth Blvd. in Clayton. The gallery is free and open to the public from 10am – 6 pm Tuesdays through Fridays, 10am – 4pm on Saturdays.