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If geology could be shortened to a few sentences from its unabridged millennial epic, the story of the Savannah River might go something like this:
Bound by the Eastern Continental Divide, it originates from the natural entwinement of the Tugaloo and Seneca rivers, themselves fed by the confluences of other ancient tributaries. This holy mix of aquatic bodies is now submerged under Lake Hartwell, a manmade reservoir barely a blip on the geological timeline. From here the river winds its way through the antebellum cities of Georgia’s historical heart, part blackwater cypress swamps and towering smokestacks, pushing through tidal marshes and freighter ship traffic to empty at last into the yawning horizon of the Atlantic.
Once known as the Westobou by the land’s coastal native inhabitants, the Savannah River holds in its shifting currents a contradiction for modern times. It carries cargo both natural and manufactured, undeniably polluted yet in places unexpectedly pristine. It is at once primordial and industrial, forging always eastward even as the tides turn to push flotsam and jetsam back upstream. The past is always present in its steady flow, and its ecological and economic future informs a constant conversation.
Time will eventually conquer every last one of us, though we experience far more meaning to our lives if we continue to float our ideals back and forth, letting them evolve and change. Viewing art and letting it touch our collective consciousness is how we learn to become more fluid in how we approach ourselves and the challenges of the modern age. We can take our cue from the Savannah River, an ancient body in a state of constant renewal.
Excerpt from CURRENTS and Connectivity . Jessica Leigh Lebos
with Marcus Kenney . Melinda Borysevicz . Elizabeth Winnel . Katherine Sandoz . Michael Porten . Tobia Makover
curated by Susan Laney
Academy of Richmond County . Westobou Festival