The Waterfall of St. Louis Stories is a floor to ceiling, interactive installation made of hundreds of papers cascading down from the ceiling on wire clips. The purpose of this art installation is to provide all members of the community an opportunity to share their story. "History" in its official forms has often reflected the experiences of a select few. Waterfall of St. Louis Stories allows participants to write their memories on top of past printed histories symbolically giving a voice back to the people.
Erin McGrath Rieke (Creative Director), Yetunde Ogunfidodo (Regional Arts Commission Program Manager/Gallery Liasion) S. Jewell S. McGhee (Project Coordinator/Lead Designer), Rose Merello (Studio Designer), Megan Hutt (Assistant Director/Studio Designer), Kevin Merello (Studio Engineering Consultant), John Stanford (Installation Assistant)
Stories are important. They tell us who we are, where we have been and who we can be. They build us because stories hold truths. “History” in its official forms often leaves out stories. Words that are printed, reported on and published can be deeply dissonant to our lived experiences. This reality creates rifts in our world. “Truth” often seems to favor the “strong,” and the voices of the “weak” are silenced as their stories and struggles are erased. Waterfall of St. Louis Stories is a floor to ceiling, interactive installation made of hundreds of papers cascading down from the ceiling on wire clips. The papers that form the body of the waterfall are published papers that have hand written stories, drawings or markings on top of the papers provided by participants. The contrast of published words with varied markings will juxtapose official and lived histories. Waterfall of St. Louis Stories is designed to have a pathway that leads the participant into the interactive exhibit towards a writing station where they make their story on the past printed story. This process allows the viewer to become part of the installation when physically surrounded by it and actively contributing to it. A set of fans is installed to ensure constant movement and rustling of papers to mimic the movement and sound of a waterfall.As attested to by counselors and therapists, healing from trauma occurs when a person’s story is heard and believed. Neurologically, narrative and empathy are able to bypass brain patterns that logic and arguments will shut down. That is, stories have the power to change and to heal. We are ever-flowing: we change as our stories move forward full of hope and sorrow, grief and growth. We are all a part of the same rush, the same fall, and the same awe-inspiring beauty.
Evocation Opening Reception, Regional Arts Commission
From Left to Right: John Stanford, Rose Merello, S. Jewell S. McGhee, Erin McGrath Rieke, Kevin Merello (not pictured) Megan Hutt