Great Rivers Biennial | St. Louis Public Radio

Great Rivers Biennial

Nanette Boileau, Dakota Territory (still), 2015. HD video, color, sound. Courtesy the artist.
Provided by CAM

Each artist in this year's Great Rivers Biennial addresses individual aspects of living in the Midwest and the influence of various economic factors on those experiences.  

Jeffery Uslip, the Contemporary Art Museum's deputy director for exhibitions and programs, said the artists stake claims to individual and complex portraits of living in the broader Midwest.

“When you’re in this region the challenges one faces and the issues that come to the fore are so raw and real, they’re not mediated, they’re very local and very specific and very immediate,” Uslip said.

Printmaker Tate Foley welcomes visitors to his home studio during the October 2015 Studio Tours held by the Contemporary Art Museum.
Jarred Geistreich

Making art involves creativity, of course. But for many artists, including St. Louis’ Tate Foley, exactitude is every bit as important.

Printmaker Foley is meticulous about following the necessary steps, in strict order. One of his first steps sometimes involves ordering from eBay, since Foley’s work explores consumerism using things like gum wrappers and trading cards.

Kelly Lee and her mother Barbara Hill examine a sculpture inspired by the artist's homeless sister inside the garage studio of JE Baker
Nancy Fowler / St. Louis Public Radio

Barbara Hill of Fenton will do almost anything to support her four daughters. A decade ago while visiting one daughter in the African Republic of Mali, Hill shut her eyes as her car's driver backed down a narrow mountain road to let another vehicle pass.

So simply riding a forward-moving bus to four St. Louis artists’ studios this past Sunday was a breeze. And an eye-opener, as it turned out.

Equilibirum by Lyndon Barrois
Courtesy of Lyndon Barrois

Three St. Louis artists are each $20,000 richer this week.  

“It’s still pretty surreal, like it still hasn’t really sunk in as a reality,” said artist Lyndon Barrois Jr., 31. He teaches at Washington University and Webster University.

The money is part of the Great Rivers Biennial award, which also includes the artist’s work in an exhibit at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in May 2016.