SCHOOLHOUSE

Will County Historical MuseumHeritage Village
249 W 2nd St, Lockport, IL

In the schoolhouse, I exhibit primarily my artist’s books which examine the history of the I&M Canal, the immigrants who built it, and circumstances that led to the Canal’s demise. The artist’s books also examine my own immigrant experiences in the spaces along the Canal towpath.

The schoolhouse exhibit includes a series of four artist books: Time Robber; Beneath the Trampled Stage; Echoes in the Dust Volume I; and Echoes in the Dust Volume II. These books tell the story of the immigrants working on the I&M canal intertwined with my own narrative. As an immigrant, I relate to the hardships faced by the laborers on the canal. Comprising images and text, the books document and explore the environment surrounding the I&M Canal, my connection to those spaces, my struggles as an immigrant in a new country and culture, and attitudes of expendability held towards immigrants both past and present.

Artist's Books

Time Robber, Beneath the Trampled Stage, Echoes in the Dust Volume I, and Echoes in the Dust Volume II

Time Robber documents my observations and thoughts on the environment surrounding the Canal, connecting these observations to the past through archival information and original and historical photographs. Beneath the Trampled Stage juxtaposes images of the Dresden Cemetery (where settlers were buried) with images from other nearby cemeteries (where the wealthy were buried), contrasting mausoleums of the affluent with the deteriorating gravestones of the settlers who built the I&M Canal. Echoes in the Dust Volume I explores my relationship to the spaces surrounding the I&M, my sense of identity as an immigrant, and my place in America. Echoes in the Dust Volume II explores the notion of immigrants as disposable through the examination of their forgotten work and crumbling structures near the Canal. 

Echoes in the Dust Art Sites Map

Chicago, IL to Peru, IL

Mile 0 to Mile 96

In addition to the four artist’s books, I placed a large-scale hand-drawn map of the I&M Canal towpath at the head of the classroom. This embellished map indicates locations where I interacted with the spaces along the I&M towpath while creating various visual and audio works for this project. These interactions include the painting of a large-scale artwork, various photography, ambient and performed sound recordings, researched locations for archival material, making of impressions of spaces through frottage, and collection of organic matter for use in creation of artwork. The map includes a legend with all marked places.

© 2019 by Mirjana Ursulesku.