Two California art students experience river shanty boat life - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Two California art students experience river shanty boat life

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It's a vessel fit for Huckleberry Finn.

Kai Dalgleish, artist, "We started in Minneapolis about three weeks ago, and we're headed down stream."

But the artists inside this shanty boat are aboard for more than adventure.  Wes Modes and his crew are creating an archive on water, floating down the Mississippi, collecting bits of river yesteryear along the way.

Wes Modes, artist, "I'm hoping that the archive that I create becomes a research resource for people who are either doing research about the river, or maybe river people."

Made largely of repurposed wood and tin, the shanty's architecture itself is a tribute to the Mississippi's historical value.

"There used to be shanty boats that lined the shores of every town and city in America, factory workers, displaced farm workers."

This shanty serves as a home and office - where the team processes video and posts journey updates to their blog.

It's also a hangout spot for third mate, Hazel.

"We thought it would be crampy and turns out, it's plenty of space."

Wes and Kai have interviewed more than 15 people, everyone from DNR officials, to experts, to those who grew up on the rivers banks.  As they've traveled, strangers drive miles just to get a glimpse inside the shanty walls that Wes and Kai will call home for one more week.
But long after the adventure is over, the Secret History of the American River People will float on.

"The boat that we're on, a shanty boat, becomes a library and archive itself for the project."

Weaved into the backwaters and history of the great river.


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