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Flood of '93

The Mississippi River's wrath reveals itself to every generation. A few Western Illinois artists are doing their part to make sure the tragic lessons of the past will spare lives in the future.

In the summer of 1993, the Mississippi breached levees and spread muddy water for miles beyond its banks. Submerging farms and homes, it left a swath of destruction that reminded nearby residents of the quiet power of Old Man River.

Two Illinois artists went out to chronicle the wreckage left by the river in their own way. Poet B. J. Elsner contemplated the flood cycle of the river in her verse, while photographer Jewel Gwaltney captured the scramble to contain the floodwaters and the dismay when nature overpowered most of those efforts.

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Bloomington painter James Butler captured the power and majesty of the river in his own way: huge canvasses that portray the Mississippi from source to mouth.

See the work of another Mississippi-influenced photographer- The Mississippi Delta bore the Blues, and many of the musicians that photographer James Fraher documents.

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Listen to poet BJ Elsner's memories of the "Flood of '93" set to Jewel Gwaltney's photographs in this hearfelt collage which joins the work of two unique artists.

 

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Photo by Jewel Gwaltney.

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Photo by Jewel Gwaltney.

 

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