Yesterday, Blake and I installed a collaborative exhibition at the Nuance Gallery in Beresford, South Dakota called The Honeymoon is Over. We will have a reception for the show on Wednesday, July 11th from 7pm to 9pm. This reception takes place during the second session of Frogman’s Print and Paper Workshop, so I hope all of you here for the workshop will be able to make it over to Beresford for our show!
We dreamed this idea up about a year ago. After exhibiting the Frogman’s 30th Anniversary Assistants’ Portfolio Exchange at the Nuance during the workshop last year, the gallery’s owner, Jean, offered for us to return the next year with a show if we so desired. Since our wedding itself, AKA Blessed Unions was an Official Southern Graphics Council Conference art event with an exhibition, panel discussion and “performance art” ceremony conducted by the Right Reverend John Hancock, we decided to do a bit belated One Year Anniversary Exhibition entitled The Honeymoon is Over at Nuance this summer. This exhibition consists mainly of work Blake and I have made together over the first year of our Marriage to one another.
Blake and I were able to exhibit this exhibition in part during this year’s Southern Graphics Council Conference in New Orleans as a part of Uncharted Territories, a group exhibition organized by May Babcock. Uncharted Territories contained work by artists involving the local Southern Louisiana Landscape, specifically the Mississippi River. The way we installed for Uncharted Territories was very different, however. We had fewer dinosaur figures, and they were all mounted on custom built stands. We also brought the “river tubes” out into the gallery space by rigging them with invisible fishing line from the ceiling. You can see a few images of this installation here: Installing Uncharted Territories. And some images of us creating this artwork here: Studio Day!
“So, what the heck is all this stuff on the wall?,” you may be asking yourself. Well, this piece represents a tug-of-war battle mankind and natural forces are fighting over the great Mississippi River. With natural adjustments to her course, the Mississippi has traveled many different pathways from North to South, and she is still working on finding the fastest and steepest course to the Gulf of Mexico. Mankind has been busying itself with blocking and controlling the Mississippi’s fluctuations seriously since the mid 1900s, and has been interfering with its flood patterns long before that through the construction of levees.
I dealt with this subject matter during my thesis at Louisiana State University, an exhibition I entitled Trials and Tributaries. A quote from my thesis paper provides a bit more background on Mississippi flow control:
The river has long been powerful, but due to Federally mandated control of the Mississippi, the situation has been made much more dire. By the late 1940s, more than a third of the Mississippi’s waters were actually naturally flowing into the Atchafalaya basin, rather than along their former path.1 Through a massive system of levees and spillways, the government took control over the waters in order to divert exactly 70 percent of the Mississippi river’s waters through Baton Rouge and New Orleans.2 This allowed these cities to maintain their port status, against the Mississippi’s current tendencies to flow elsewhere. The most recent action by the Army Core of Engineers opened emergency floodgates of the Morganza spillway on May 14, 2011. While hopefully saving major cities such as Baton Rouge and New Orleans from record flood levels, the opening of the spillway “is expected to cover about 3,000 square miles in central and South Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River Basin under as much as 25 feet of water.”3
- John McPhee, “Atchafalaya: The Control of Nature,” The New Yorker, February 1987: 1.
- John McPhee, “Atchafalaya: The Control of Nature,” The New Yorker, February 1987: 3.
- Farm Press Editorial Staff, “Corps of Enineers Opens Morganza Floodgates,” Delta Farm Press, May 14, 2011, (accessed May 15, 2011). 1.
Blake has also worked with similar subject matter involving our control and destruction of major waterways, bodies of water and other natural environments using dinosaur imagery as a reference to prehistoric forces and contemporary petroleum exploitation. You can see these works and others on his Flickr Page.
Even though we have recently moved to Kentucky after spending 7 or 8 years in South Louisiana focusing on making artwork about the environment there, I am sure we will keep finding these themes and images in our work. After all, the Mississippi drains 41% of the 48 contiguous states in the U.S. It’s a big deal whether you’re living at the mouth or along one of the serpentine tails!
We hope you enjoy looking through these images of the exhibition and that anyone attending the Frogman’s workshops or who lives in the Beresford, SD area will be able to make it out to our reception on July 11th from 7:00pm-9:00pm.
More Images Here: The Honeymoon is Over on our flickr.com page.