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Mound City

Curators: Marilu Knode, Executive Director and Dana Turkovic, Curator of Exhibitions

The title Mound City is St. Louis’s appellation in honor of the Mound culture that existed here a thousand years ago. The heart of this Mississippian culture’s capital, located at Cahokia, adjacent to East St. Louis on the Illinois border, is where the bulk of the remaining mounds are found. This ancient city was the largest north of Mexico City, and like Hohokam in the southwest, the Mound builders dispersed (or disappeared) around 1400 CE. Although archaeology on the site continues to yield astonishing, and controversial, findings (such as evidence of human sacrifice), the presence of this early civilization is little felt in the surrounding area. Indeed, while the nation recently celebrated Lewis & Clark’s historic voyage to find an uninterrupted water route to the West coast, the specifics of St. Louis’s role in taming of the West is little examined.

St. Louis does celebrate its position as the “heart” of the country, ignoring its less palatable history—its erasure of its native past supplanted by European settlements, its current racial problems, a convoluted political system that precludes collaboration and resource sharing, a declining industrial base and environmental problems. It is this uncelebrated set of realities that we hope will be a rich vein for artistic exploration. Through Mound City, and other educational and curatorial initiatives, we intend to explore the interrelationship between art, history and nature in our 105 acres and historic gallery spaces.

Artists in the exhibition will explore traces of native culture in our contemporary world ranging in topics of disappearance and destruction, resurrection and monument. Artists include A Tribe Called Red (Ottowa), Sam Durant (Los Angeles), Geoffrey Krawczyk (New York), Beverly Pepper (Todi, Italy), Alison Saar (Los Angeles), Marie Watt (New York), among others. Mound City will also include our In Residence: Archeologists Joe Harl and Robin Machiran.  Laumeier Sculpture Park is also co-curating a film series with Webster University focusing on films by native and indigenous filmmakers from around the globe.

Friday, April 11, 7:30 p.m., The Way Field

Saturday, April 12, 11 a.m.

Thursday, May 1, 6:30 p.m.,
Washington University, Steinberg Auditorium

Thursday, July 10, 11 a.m.
Friday, July 11, 6 p.m.
Tour the Ancient American Art Collection
with curator Amy Clark