Over this last six months I've been working on a new project with my fellow Artist Inc team mates. Go Team Orange! Some really exciting things have been happening and I want to document our progress and introduce the project a little bit.
Weaving the River is an immersive art experience that depicts the unrecognized history of the Wyandotte Indian Settlement of Quindaro.
Once a vibrant trade port on the banks of the Missouri river and a key stop on the underground railroad; few voices rise to tell the epic tale of the progressive township’s resistance and strength.
According to the Health Equity Action Transformation report released by Community Health Council of Wyandotte County in November 2016, out of 106 counties in the state of Kansas, the citizens of Wyandotte County consist of the most vulnerable populations in both individual and public health. There is intense overlap of these social determinants of health that show the area surrounding Quindaro to be one of the most at-risk in the county.
Our team will create an installation that envelops the audience in the landscape of Quindaro. A soundscape composed by Jen Appell will include natural samples, voices of residents, songs of slavery and traditional Wyandot music. This element explores the synergies and counterpoints of the community’s complex cultural experience through the span of time. Jillian Youngbird will weave a “river” from sticks and resources collected from the site of the settlement and yarn steeped in water of the Missouri. This physical interpretation of Quindaro, which means “bundle of sticks” or “stronger together”, represents the strength of weaving together a community. Justin Border and I will interpret the topography of the valley allowing the public to walk the landscape, illustrating the historical and current disparities between Kansas and Missouri. Our team will also create infographics depicting the population’s past and present challenges inspired by hand-drawn graphics created by W.E.B. DuBois.
A few weeks ago we reached the final round for the Rocket Grant. Though we didn't win a grant we are still confident that our project will move forward. We've made some great connections with local community organizations such as the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, the Kansas City Design Center, Freedom's Frontier, Wyandotte Nation of Kansas, Black Archives of Mid America, Grinter Place State Historical Site and Kansas City Kansas Public Libraries.
We will document the process of Weaving the River in partnership with Fountain City Frequency to produce a series of narrative podcasts that document the progression of our continued connections to the Quindaro community, physical construction of the installation and the history of Quindaro. This is an exciting opportunity to bring the history of Wyandotte County to a larger audience so that the history is acknowledged and not lost.