Sydney Petersen, Buildup

Buildup is a series of etching and aquatint prints that draw from the experience of paddling along the Bird’s Point Floodway from Cairo, Illinois to New Madrid, Missouri. Passing barges, shown in River Traffic, towered over our canoes heaving coal, refinery parts, and windmill pieces up and downstream. After a devastating flood in 1927, the Army Corps constructed a fuseplug levee system that aims to redirect floodwaters to Bird’s Point floodway and continues to implicate the lives and livelihoods of New Madrid residents. In 2011, the Corps exploded the fuseplugs to relieve upstream flooding. Buildup depicts 2011 flooded areas in grey aquatint and the floodway is delineated with a white outline. Vertical motions of exploding earth are married with electrocuted invasive Bighead and Silver carp jumping out of the water in River Management. Layering the plates on one piece of paper in Buildup is a way to represent the sedimentation of colonial structures within resource politics, transportation, and the organization of land.