­­­­­­­Turning the Tide

Karen McCoy and Melli Hoppe, TURNING THE TIDEThe Falls of the Ohio at Louisville, Kentucky and Clarksville, Indiana, 2003.

Conversation, while making rammed earth "soil stones". the  "soil stones" were cast into molds of stones borrowed from The Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center, site of the largest inland fossil beds in North America. Earth supplied by community participants. 28 "soil stones" from twelve silicone and plaster molds, stones ranged in size from 14 x 12 x 4" to 6 x 8 x 5". Later, choreographer Hoppe produced CURRENTSfrom the materials and conversations generated by TURNING THE TIDE.

Background: Thomas Jefferson asked Lewis and Clark to observe carefully all they encountered; the plants, animals, minerals and people fostered by the soil.  At the Falls of the Ohio, our own process of observation led us to ancient fossil stones that have impeded movement on the Ohio River for centuries.  We took molds from these fossil stones and, using earth brought to us from community members, we made new rocks by ramming earth into the molds. By making stones out of earth we turned geological process around and, in doing so, set up a metaphor of reversal. 

Signature Event: We moved our studio to a 900 square foot tent on the riverfront at Louisville, KY.  For 13 days we encountered hundreds of children and adults of all ages.  Some people left quickly, others lingered. 

We asked:  What can we do to turn the tide on environmental degradation, and on losses suffered by American Indians and African Americans over the last 200 years?

In addition to heightening community awareness of art and catalyzing conversations about our future, the project was part of a process of gathering material. We intend to use the soil-stones, the movement, images generated in making them, and bits and pieces from conversations in a multi-media, site-specific installation and performance to be held in 2006, two hundred years from Lewis and Clark's return to the Falls of the Ohio.

The Lewis and Clark Arts Corps is part of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial ArtsPlan, a cultural development initiative supported by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the Indiana Arts Commission, the Kentucky Arts Council and the Falls of the Ohio Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Committee.

The artists would like to thank all the people involved in the above mentioned organizations as well as the following:  Mike Maloney and the Mayor's office, Bill Herron, George Carter, David shields, George Clausen and the employees of Metro Parks, and the Open Spaces Division of Public Works in Louisville Metro. the following business in Louisville for generous support:  Jefferson Lumber, Lowe's, Hadley Pottery, Bob Greenrose, Inc. and in Indiana, the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center, Home Depot in New Albany, The Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, Mt. St. Francis, IN and Tony Perkins at Mt. St. Francis; Fastsigns, Shreveport, LA, Ed Boilini, Indianapolis, IN, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN and the Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO.  We would also like to express our appreciation to all of those individuals who have volunteered their time and energy to assist in and support the project.  Photo:  E.G. Schmpf.   Detail of rammed earth soil-stones.  Soil from Bagdad, KY, Mt. St. Francis, IN and the Mingo Nation in Ohio