Join Riverfront Times Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

In Mound City, Juan William Chávez Explores St. Louis' Landscape

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2018 at 9:55 AM

click to enlarge Mound City. - JUAN WILLIAM CHAVEZ
  • Mound City.

One of St. Louis' older names is Mound City, which comes from the enormous earthen mounds raised by the pre-Columbian Mississippian culture on both sides of the river. Ironically, only one mound — Sugar Loaf — remains on the St. Louis side, and yet the name persists.

Artist Juan William Chávez drew inspiration from these structures for his new show, Mound City, which opens this weekend at Cherokee Street's Flood Plain gallery. The work is inspired by the built environment of St. Louis past and present.

For Chávez, the landscape is a looming influence. Born in Peru, Chávez spent most of his formative years in St. Louis, where his mother comes from. The juxtaposition of two vastly different geographic and ecological environments plays a large role in Mound City.

“The ruins you see in the Andes Mountains are definitely similar to the Cahokia mounds," Chávez says. The visual similarities don't stop there: "The Amazon River juxtaposed with the Mississippi, the industrial agriculture that happens here versus the agricultural innovations that happen in the mountains of Peru."

click to enlarge Mound City. - JUAN WILLIAM CHAVEZ
  • Mound City.

Mound City uses that as a jumping-off point, but also incorporates the city's detritus.

"A lot of the objects I have used in projects related to gardening, some objects I found just walking around and observing St. Louis,” Chávez explains. "Mound City is a more personal presentation of how I think about place, or St. Louis."

These meditations on the landscape and its history is what is at the heart of the work. Mound City features a variety of mediums: installations of found and specially built objects, drawings and weaving. Individual artworks serve as lenses to view the mound cities of Chávez's creative vision and the region's past.

Mound City opens with a free reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, August 25, at Flood Plain (3151 Cherokee Street; The Show continues through September 22.

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

July 1, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2020 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation