We Are the River at Stockton University

My textile work Take Us to the River, which was co-created with community members during my residency at TaconyLAB in 2022, has been included in the exhibition We Are the River at Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey. The exhibition, curated by Ryann Casey and Allie Wilson, examines how contemporary artists are inspired by, interact with, and interweave their own stories into the complex history of New Jersey rivers. From ecological disaster to personal accounts to community building, artists reflect on the significance of rivers as not only a resource but as shared space of experience.

Participating artists include Nancy Agati, Milcah Bassel, Michael ChovanDalton, Nancy Cohen, Joanie Gagnon San Chirico, Tyrese “Bright Flower” Gould Jacinto, Steve Kuzma, Lauren Rosenthal McManus, Jean Shin, Rebecca Schultz, Brandon Seidler, Lawre Stone, Amanda Thackray, Rachel Blythe Udell, Michael Williamson & Cheryl Patton Wu. The exhibition runs from January16, 2024 to April 7, 2024, with a panel talk and reception on Monday February 5, 2024. 

In the statement I wrote for the show, I reflected on the idea that waterways do (or don’t) belong to a particular state: A few days after I moved back to my home state of Pennsylvania with my family, we went to the Delaware River waterfront. My family first lived alongside the majestic Niger River, which runs 2600 miles through West Africa, then in California, where you have to drive many hours to reach a state border. So they were amazed when I pointed across the river and said, those buildings right on the other side are in the state of New Jersey. As my creative practice has developed here, I’ve come to realize how arbitrary human-designated borders are. I think of myself more as an inhabitant of the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed, which in turn flows into the Delaware, and then into the Atlantic Ocean. My work focuses on connecting fellow humans with their more-than-human relatives in the complex ecosystems that form our waterways. The piece that is included in this exhibition was inspired by the plants, birds, and water creatures living along, and in, the Delaware River. It was co-created with dozens of community members who live in the Tacony neighborhood of Philadelphia, which faces Palmyra, New Jersey. We took walks in a restored native ecosystem along the river, observing, learning, and making art. Many times, we saw the Peregrine Falcons who use the nesting box at the crest of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. I try to imagine what they see as they soar over the river. They don’t see states or borders or boundaries, either. They see home.