Panoramic photograph of Red River

‘North Water Rising’ Exhibition Bridges Art and Science

Panoramic photograph of Red River
“Man vs. Land,” a series of panoramic photographs by senior art major Shelby Steidl shows the relationship of humans’ construction of cropland and buildings along the Red River in the “North Water Rising” exhibition.

Events at North Dakota State were fairly quiet over the semester break, but the new year brought a new exhibition to the Memorial Union Gallery.

“North Water Rising,” a collaborative showing between students in advanced photography and landscape architecture, showcases the art and science of the Red River, its drainage basin and the surrounding region. The exhibition is the brainchild of Meghan Kirkwood, assistant professor of art, and Dominic Fischer, assistant professor of landscape architecture, rounding up dozens of students for the artful, educational showing.

It’s a kind of collaboration that gallery coordinator Netha Cloeter points to as wonderful for any department.

“Any time you collaborate with another department and further your educational goals and the depths that a project goes into, it’s a positive thing,” she said. “That represents real-world collaboration. This is a project that really does that well.”

While Cloeter admits the Red River is not a traditional example of landscape photography, the pairing of photography of the river with charts, maps and project of landscape architecture students sparks a certain dialogue in the collaborative match.

“These photos tell a story that’s coming from that student individual but more of a research perspective,” Cloeter said. “So it’s thinking about using photography to tell an important story, not just that you create, but that is from this area.”

Stories and themes range far and wide in “North Water Rising,” with projects covering subjects such as a historic tale of a water monster in the Red River to a detailed work depicting the entire runoff region of the river.

This exhibition may seem somewhat similar to a previous show last fall, “Oil & Water,” though that was more geopolitical while this new exhibition contains more environmental, educational tones.

Topographic model of Red River
The Environmental Planning Studio designed “Red River Topographic Model,” the first piece visible in “North Water Rising,” when entering the Memorial Union Gallery.

“The word ‘water’ is a connection, but the ‘Oil & Water’ exchange was more about western North Dakota,” Cloeter said of the two exhibitions. “This is about environmental issues, but also if you move beyond that, the investigative pieces of the landscape architecture classes are reinterpreted by art students … [‘North Water Rising’] is more about the presence of the river, how we live with the river running through our city.”

From flooding to sustainability to riparian construction, “North Water Rising” examines the river and the region that has sprung up around it.

Flooding immediately comes to mind when most people think of the Red River, but this exhibition goes deeper than that, touching on many issues surrounding the entire drainage basin.

In addition to this, the plenitude of photos of the river itself is something rarely seen. Landscape photography takes an interesting form here, hitting upon the twists, turns, structures and cities that encompass the Red River region, and all are prepared and presented by students, from the photography and landscape architecture classes to the gallery setup itself.

Cloeter is the only non-student involved with the Memorial Union Gallery.

She believes any student can connect with this exhibition, and not only because of the regional tie, but due to deeper links as well.

“I think that really any major at NDSU can find an entry point into this exhibition, not only because it’s photos of this region where we live, but also because the landscape architecture projects take on a lot of issues like conservation, environmental planning, sustainability, flooding,” Cloeter said. “They’re issues that, moving into the 21st century, we’re all dealing with.”


WHEN: Until Feb. 6
WHERE: Memorial Union Gallery

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