Big River Continuum

A unique artist-scientist exchange linking both ends of the Mississippi River.

A natural resource. A place of recreation. A hub for industry. A cultural signifier. The Mississippi is many things to many people. From the protected old-growth forest of Itasca State Park where it begins to the oil refineries and industrial infrastructure that dot the shores at its southernmost point, the river is a study in extremes. Activities upstream have a profound impact on ways of life and well-being downstream. 

A new exchange program between Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories — the first field station on the river — and A Studio in the Woods — an artist residency and one site of the new Lower Coast Field Station — turns the Mississippi River and all that it represents into a platform for creative collaboration with artists, scientists, and communities. Big River Continuum is premised on the idea of true reciprocity among artists, scientists, and communities driven by a deep curiosity about and concern for the river and all it represents.

Artists participating in Big River Continuum will establish collaborations and ignite inquiry into the interconnectedness of cultures, research and environments in the Mississippi River watershed. Through University of Minnesota’s Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories and Tulane University’s Bywater Institute, which runs A Studio in the Woods, they will engage with scientists investigating a variety of questions relating to the land, water, and climate, and draw on knowledge from multiple sources to inform their artistic endeavors.

The exchange seeks to spark a creative dialogue between scientists doing place-based research and artists rooted in these very specific environments about our relationship to the river.