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Central Washington University

Artist Gregg Schlanger Creates Interactive Exhibit to Map Spokane River

Exploring a sense of place is key to many of Central Washington University Art Department Chair and Professor Gregg Schlanger’s thought-provoking installations. Nowhere is this more evident than in his current exhibit, Mapping the Spokane (River), at Spokane Falls Community College.

According to American Rivers (www.americanrivers.org), the Spokane River is the sixth most endangered river in America. The river contains excessive amounts of sewage, PCBs, and heavy metals. The 111-mile-long river was once a “pathway of life” for the Spokane Tribe, and before the construction of the seven dams, five species of salmon populated the waterway. Today there are no salmon.

Schlanger calls his exhibit a “gallery installation and community project,” and has invited the community to participate the “mapping” of the river by bringing in a sample of water from the river with a note about where it was collected. Schlanger asks that people add their stories, experiences, adventures, concerns, hopes and dreams to the exhibit, creating a vibrant, interactive, and constantly changing display.

“I am fascinated with the concept of mapping and the artistic aspects of a cartographer. Maps change over time,” said Schlanger. “Can a map be of a moment? Can a map tell your story?

“During my explorations of the Spokane River, I have observed the public interacting with the river,” he continued. Schlanger has traveled and taken water samples from the river from Fort Spokane to the Columbia River.

“I noticed people having many different relationships with the river. They are engaged with the waterway for various reasons. It is these moments, these narratives that I am interested in mapping.”

A face book page, Mapping the Spokane – River (https://www.facebook.com/mapapingthespokane) allows people to post their photos and comments, and has already acquired a significant number of ‘likes.’ Interest and interaction with the exhibit, which opened before school started, is expected to soar in the next few weeks.

The museum has already expanded its hours, opening on October 5, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., so that people have additional opportunities to bring in their contributions. The exhibit runs through October 18, and Schlanger will present a closing lecture at 11:30 a.m. at SFCC, Building 17—SUB Lounges A/B. A reception will be held afterwards in the Fine Arts Gallery in Building 6.

“Because of the dynamic nature of the exhibit, I thought it would be more appropriate to celebrate its closing, rather than the opening,” he said. “The installation on October 18 will be a completely different exhibit than the one that started September 23.” 

Mapping the Spokane (River) is at the Spokane Falls Community College Fine Arts Gallery—Building 6, 3410 W. Forth George Wright Drive in Spokane (www.sfccfinearts.org/gallery). Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Gallery events are free and open to the public.

Schlanger received his bachelor’s of fine arts from Boise State University in 1987 and his master’s of fine arts from Northern Illinois University in 1989. His work has been shown nationally and internationally, and he has received numerous awards, including sponsorship by the New York Foundation for the Arts, Israel-Tennessee Visual Artist Exchange program, and the USIA Arts America Grant.

Artwork by Gregg Schlanger

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, valeriec@cwu.edu

September 27, 2013