Ansley West Rivers: Seven Rivers

By  |  January 26, 2015

Artist: Ansley West Rivers

Project: Seven Rivers

Artist Statement:

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. During a recent trip through the Grand Canyon, I recognized the loss of water, land, and culture that's been inflicted upon the Colorado River. I realized the importance of watersheds as maps; they tell the story of civilization. This inspired my investigation into the current state of American rivers.

Rivers across the world are experiencing changes in water levels and temperature. River wildlife is also changing and rivers have more saltwater. The project will develop a portrait that depicts the journey taken by each of these seven rivers and the struggles bound to every drop of water. The photographs are not aimed at pure documentation but rather encourage us to think about the unseen changes occurring on all rivers. The constructed images I make show the effects of industry, global warming, agriculture, power, and our unquenchable demand for fresh water. We currently stand at a precipice in the history of water, and how we think about the health and use of our rivers now will determine the lifespan of fresh water. The debate over water can only truly begin if we can connect ourselves to the rivers that sustain us.

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. Her work is currently in a Two-Person Exhibition at L1 Gallery as part of “Atlanta Celebrates Photography,” a citywide festival of photography and is also in the permanent collection at 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). Seven Rivers has recently been featured in The New York Times Magazine, The Huffington Post, and Fast Company Design Magazine. She has taught Photography at the California College of the Arts. She resides in the Low Country of coastal Georgia.

Jeff Rich is a photographer based in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Jeff currently teaches photography at Coastal Carolina University. He curates the OA’s weekly photo series, Eyes on the South.