This series of photographs captures the watersheds of seven rivers—the Colorado, Missouri/Mississippi, Columbia, Rio Grande, Tuolumne, Altamaha, and the Hudson—and considers the fragile state of fresh water across the United States.
The project began during a life changing twenty-five day float through the Grand Canyon.
My trip ended at Lake Mead where the canyon ends and the river is dammed. Leaving the canyon was heartbreaking. I had lived surrounded by the canyon walls for three weeks so the abrupt transition was disorienting. The comfort of the walls and the rocking of the flowing river had become the soothing feeling of home. The sudden end of the river into the stagnant waters of the lake broke my heart in multiple ways.
I spent the last two nights on the Lake. I left the vibrant sounds of the living canyon to the dying sounds of an eroding riverbank. At night, it was hard to sleep with the crashing of the banks into the water. The illusion of serenity and untamed wilderness was dismantled upon my entrance into the Lake.
My belief in a wild, free flowing river was shattered.
And thus I began Seven Rivers.
The photographs are not aimed at documentation but rather the depiction of unseen changes occurring on all rivers.
We stand at a precipice in the history of water. How we approach the health and use of our rivers now will determine the lifespan of fresh water. Rivers across the world are experiencing changes in water levels, temperature, wildlife and saltwater intrusion. The series depicts images that are simultaneously beautiful and haunting in an attempt to challenge the viewer’s perspectives on the landscapes that sustain us.
Racket & Rose
I am exploring the confusion of space and time. Layers and distortion remove any graspable orientation. The images belong to the space of night, dreams and fiction more than they do to the light of day. They hint at what lies beyond reach. The blurred photographic record has roots in both the physical and emotional landscapes.
Ansley West Rivers is a photographer who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her MFA from the California College of the Arts and BFA from the University of Georgia. She has an upcoming Two-Person Exhibition at L1 Gallery as part of “Atlanta Celebrates Photography,” a citywide festival of photography. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia and the LaGrange Art Museum. Additionally, West Rivers has been included in recent exhibitions at the Wattis Institute of Contemporary Art (San Francisco, CA), New Century Artist Gallery (New York, NY), Root Division (San Francisco, CA), Kala Art Institute (Berkley, CA), Carmel Visual Arts (Carmel, CA), Kiernan Gallery (Lexington, VA), The Print Center (Philadelphia, PA) and a solo exhibition at The Southern Light Gallery (Amarillo, TX). Her project, Seven Rivers, was recently featured in the New York Times Magazine. Seven Rivers has an upcoming feature in the Huffington Post’s Arts section. She has taught Photography at the California College of the Arts. She currently resides in the Low Country of coastal Georgia. West Rivers cofounded The Thicket Artist Residency, which plans to open in the winter of 2015.
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