To those who live in the Greater Kansas City Area, the word Quindaro stirs up many thoughts and emotions, most negative. The local news cycle depicts a violent vein within the inner city of Kansas City, Kansas where, over the course of the last dozen years, the crime rate has been nearly double the national average. Some hear the word Quindaro and equate it with fear and poverty. But at it’s core, Quindaro is a community founded in hope, inclusiveness and resilience. At it’s heart, Quindaro is a reflection of what is best in all of us when we join together to fight against tyranny and repression.
Weaving the River is an immersive art experience that celebrates the underrecognized history of the Wyandot Indian Settlement of Quindaro. This installation includes a soundscape composed by Jen Appell, natural samples collected on the historic grounds, voices of residents, songs of slavery and Wyandot music. The soundscape explores the synergies and counterpoints of the community's complex cultural wealth. Jillian Youngbird will weave a river from sticks and resources collected from the settlement and yarn steeped in water of the Missouri. This physical interpretation of Quindaro, which means bundle of sticks or stronger together, represents the strength of weaving together a community. Justin Border and Meghan Rowswell will sculpturally interpret the topography of the valley in a way that allows the public to walk the landscape. Our team will also create infographics depicting the population’s past and present challenges.
Once a vibrant trade port on the banks of the Missouri river and a key stop on the underground railroad; few voices rise to tell the epic tale of the progressive township’s resistance and strength. The original township, founded by Abelard Guthrie in 1856 and dissolved by the state of Kansas in 1862, was also home to Western University, the first school specifically for the children of freed slaves west of the Mississippi.
Contrary to the history of strength, a recent report released by Community Health Council of Wyandotte County shows that out of 105 counties in the state of Kansas, the citizens of Wyandotte County consist of the most vulnerable populations in both individual and public health. There is intense overlap of these social determinants of health that show the area surrounding Quindaro to be one of the most at-risk in the county.
Through the warp and weft of hands on experience, community engagement and research, our interpretation of history intends to reinvigorate pride and, in turn, the overall health of the neighborhood.
Viewers are encouraged to interact with the project by tying strips of paper with thoughts or wishes for the community throughout the installation. These wishes will be ceremonially released at the site of the original Quindaro docks on the Missouri River at the end of the installation. Through interactive engagement, we educate and advocate for the future of Quindaro.
Our project has been supported by these fantastic institutions: