Leah Evans, Set River: Lost Boat

Leah Evans, Set River: Lost Boat, 2012, commercial cotton, hand-dyed and printed cotton, silk and wool from vintage kimonos, polyester, 2.8 x 2.8 ft.

Larry Sanders

The steamboat Arabia sank in 1856 and disappeared into the mud of the Missouri River. When it was rediscovered in 1988, its husk was buried in the earth a good half-mile from the river. That’s what Wisconsin textile artist Leah Evans learned as a middle-schooler on a trip to the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City, Missouri; she’s been fascinated by meandering rivers ever since. For Set River: Lost Boat, she says, “I wanted to show the outline of the boat (the six-sided outline looming into the top right of the piece) and capture the look of farmland that has migrated with the river during wilder times.”

The Missouri is no longer wild, of course; it’s been engineered and dammed and given over to a hundred human uses. That human dynamic also shows up in the 33-year-old artist’s body of textile work.

“I’m interested in how land affects people and how people affect land,” she says. “It’s a give and take.”