Stories are important, and stories are powerful. Stories tell us who we are, where we’ve been and who we could be. They ground us in our past and they push us into the future. Stories are meaningful even when they are fantastical and larger than life. Stories are ours because we claim them, because they build us, because they hold truth for us. “History” in its official forms have often left out a lot of stories. The words that are printed, reported on, and published can be deeply dissonant to our lived experiences. This creates rifts in our world, where “truth” seems to favor the “strong” and the voices of the weak are silenced as their stories and struggles are erased. The Waterfall of St. Louis Stories is a floor to ceiling interactive installation made of hundreds of papers hanging down on wire clips. The papers that form the body of the waterfall are published papers that have hand written stories on top. This will juxtapose the official and the lived histories. The piece has a pathway with a writing station for viewers to interact and participate while physically surrounded by and a part of the piece. A set of fans is installed to ensure the constant movement and rustling of papers mimicking the movement and sound of a waterfall. Stories are gentle, and stories are strong. Like water that drips and pours and gushes to create canyons and move mountains, stories must move us forward and break down our many, rock-solid, dividing walls. 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 power to change and to heal. We are ever-flowing always changing 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; the same awe-inspiring beauty.
MISSION: 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.
TEAM: Erin McGrath Rieke (Creative Director/Designer), Yetunde Ogunfidodo (Regional Arts Commission Program Manager/Gallery Liasion) S. Jewell S. McGhee (Lead Designer), Rose Merello (Studio Designer), Megan Hutt (Assistant Director/Studio Designer), Kevin Merello (Studio Engineering Consultant), John Stanford (Installation Assistant)
Copyright S. Jewell S. McGhee 2016, All rights reserved.