Watershed Cairns: Marking the Missouri River with Art

For the November Big Muddy Speaker Series, Reuter showed some images from her 2017-2018 journey tracing the Missouri River.

Published: November 8, 2022

Presentation by Libby Reuter

See the presentation on YouTube!

Hosted by Missouri River Relief 

For the November Big Muddy Speaker Series, Reuter showed some images from their 2017-2018 journey tracing the Missouri River from Montana’s Centennial Mountain to its confluence with the Mississippi River at West Alton Missouri. She also shared the history of the Watershed Cairns project, and told some stories of their adventures.

Beginning in 2011, Watershed Cairns artists Libby Reuter and Joshua Rowan have been marking the Missouri, Ohio, and Mississippi River Watershed with over 400 images. They travel in Rowan’s van on roads alongside the rivers looking for sites that tell a story about land and river. They temporarily place one of Reuter’s cairns, glass sculptures assembled from glass she finds at local thrift stores. Then, Rowan creates a luminous landscape photograph. They record the address, GIS coordinates, and information about the watershed at that site, repack the glass and drive on to the next site.

Watershed Cairns: Water Marked with Art has been exhibited in galleries including the Missouri History Museum, St. Louis, Missouri; Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, Mt. Vernon, Illinois; Dubuque (Iowa) Museum of Art, and the Minnesota Marine Arts Museum, Winona, Minnesota.

Libby Reuter

Throughout her career as an artist and arts administrator (Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, and Southwestern Illinois College, Belleville, Illinois), Libby Reuter has been a mural painter, found-object sculptor, and an installation artist. After the flood of 1993, her work has been focused on water. Since 2011, she has been building glass sculptures for Watershed Cairns, a collaboration with photographer Joshua Rowan.

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Special thanks to Les Bourgeois Vineyards for giving us the opportunity to use their beautiful space overlooking the Missouri River. All speakers are presenting for free! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us!

The Big Muddy Speaker Series also takes place in Kansas City and St. Charles.


The views and opinions expressed by our presenters do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of Missouri River Relief, the Big Muddy Speaker Series, or any of the partners that support this public forum. The Big Muddy Speaker Series believes that hearing diverse perspectives is a crucial building block for an informed public.


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