Local Citizen Stories Collected as Cultural Data
LeCLAIRE, IOWA – August 13, 2019 – Relay of Voices (Relay), a four-month long expedition from the Headwaters to the Mouth of the Mississippi River, makes its way through LeClaire on Friday, August 16 at 5:30pm. Spearheaded by Victoria Bradford Styrbicki with the assistance of a “relay team” made up of support staff and regional volunteers, Relay embarks on a mission to collect individual stories across the Mississippi River region, acting as a mobile studio space traversing the landscape, giving everyone involved the opportunity to engage in the artistic process and feel the urgency of being connected in space and time. The entire endeavor will take place from July through November 2019.
In LeClaire, Relay plans to “relay the voices” and landscapes from Clinton, Iowa to connect them to the stories of LeClaire during the event on Friday, August 16, 2019 at the Buffalo Bill Museum & River Pilot’s Pier at 199 Front Street in LeClaire. The public is invited to witness and participate in this storytelling process.
Relay has been working with 104 communities, 20 – 40 miles apart, as daily stops on the expedition as it travels downriver through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, finishing at the Mouth of the River at the Gulf of Mexico.
“We want to create a platform for listening with the body in and around the communities of the Mississippi River,” says Executive and Artistic Director, Victoria Bradford Styrbicki. “As we build a physical vocabulary drawn from the lives of the people of LeClaire. Through this, we hope a story emerges that resonates beyond the river and connects all Americans. Through accumulation and just being present, we hope to be a catalyst for all the voices of LeClaire while also providing insightful data for scientific purposes.”
Each stop along the way has been identified and vetted into an organized route to provide an accurate representation of both the river and the diversity of the communities surrounding. A primary reason for choosing the Mississippi River region was the dichotomy of rural and urban communities there, with many of them still making a living off the water and land. The river is home to a collection of small towns ranging between 200 and 60,000 in population anchored by 7 cities with populations over 100,000, serving as beacons of culture and urbanity along the water way.
Thanks to the help of Tourism Manager, Cindy Bruhn, 5 local residents or business owners have been asked to serve as the “voices” of LeClaire, being featured at the Buffalo Bill Museum & River Pilot’s Pier in a group dialogue and interacting with Styrbicki earlier in the day. Bruhn assembled a cross-section of “voices” with relationships to the river. Those participating include: Bob Schiffke, Connie Curlott, Ryan Burchett, and friends at Pelo’s. Bruhn will also share her perspective as a LeClaire resident and tourism manager.
Relay has partnered with 29 Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs), 19 Chambers of Commerce, 30 arts, culture and educational organizations, 45 city and county governments, as well as hundreds of individual volunteers local to each community to solidify programming and to assist with accommodations, transportation, event space and nourishment to support the expedition as it travels south. Other partners include the Great River Road, Mississippi River Network, Water Institute of the Gulf, and Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board.
Relay team members include relay director Victoria Bradford Styrbicki, project collaborator Tom Styrbicki, certified triathlon coach Nic King-Ruley, and project manager Dinah Bradford. A House Unbuilt company members who previously contributed to the development of the project include Zack Bailey, Carla Gruby, Angela Gronroos, Lisa Leszczewicz, Ione Sanders, Kara Jefts, and Caitlin Rafferty. Relay of Voices is a project of A House Unbuilt, a 501c3 nonprofit corporation based in Lake Charles, La. and Chicago, Ill.
About Relay of Voices
Relay of Voices is a work of social practice dance that utilizes principles of durational performance, movement research, social choreography, endurance art, placemaking, and environmental activism. By staging a four-month long expedition from the Headwaters to the Mouth of the Mississippi River, Relay will gather landscapes and voices through various forms of movement and listening, grounding the stories of Middle America. Together with local participants, choreographer Victoria Bradford Styrbicki is physically moving downriver at a pedestrian scale, building a vocabulary of connectedness across the many voices of the River. For more information, visit https://relayofvoices.com/.
About A House Unbuilt
A House Unbuilt (AHU), a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, is based in Lake Charles, La. and Chicago, Ill. AHU uses movement and the body to engage and investigate the social fabric of rooted communities. Drawing on vocabulary from dance, sport, and everyday life, A House Unbuilt seeks to un-build the learned architecture of the body to reveal the insights and knowledge housed only there.