Portrait of a river, bronze and stainless steel, 4' x 5'
From the artists:
Our first thought upon hearing about an opportunity to make a work of art for the Memorial Hall Library in Andover, MA was to wonder if there was a nearby river. Rivers carry history in a very physical way, the banks shaped by weather and use. They create context for human memories.
Google maps did seem to show an almost discernible stream hidden under trees and behind buildings not far from the Library. We would have to travel to Andover and look for ourselves.
We collected all the information we could readily find and set out from Western Massachusetts to find the Shawsheen River. MA-2 E to I-495 N to MA-28 S.
Our first glimpse of it was from the parking lot of the Stop and Shop, where the river passes under Main St. After much trial and error, we found another section where we could walk along the bank of the river as it loops along the side of Sacred Heart park. Then we managed a glimpse of the river as we drove from the Library down Essex St, across the railroad tracks pausing on another small bridge crossing the heavily wooded banks of the Shawsheen.
We returned several times to Andover, to go over maps in the Library and photos at the Historical Society. We were given tours, by auto and on foot, of bridges and paths and old industrial buildings, and we heard stories from other eras, of mills, industries, a canoe club, and the Shawsheen Village.
We decided to use as our basis for the artwork a hand drawn map from 1692 which shows the river in its most undisturbed state. Other subtle elements from more recent maps have also been included.