Celebrating 10 years of Indie Grits, we wanted to highlight Columbia’s defining feature — the lines of water coursing through our city built on rivers. Those broad and deep imprints have long shaped the community’s culture and development.
But in October, they took a violent, unexpected turn. After historical rainfall, man-made dams failed, water lines streaked unexpectedly across urban landscapes, and neighbors saw their neighbors’ homes submerged, their communities changed overnight. Along the rivers, water swelled over banks and tore over what Columbians have built, leaving debris and fresh soil in its wake. For many, the October floodwaters inflicted a trauma still ongoing.
The event also gave new meaning to our city’s relationship with water. To explore the new interrelation, Indie Grits gathered a group of artists to form Waterlines — new works in film, performance, transmedia, and public art commissioned by the Nickelodeon.
The artists were encouraged to collaborate from the beginning — their ideas taking shape as they met and shared their own experiences of the flood, gathered stories from community members, and studied topographical maps, photographs and archived flood video from online social media sources.
Through that process, Waterlines takes it shape from the collaborative efforts of the artists and the community surrounding them and finds its power from their individual and collective discoveries.
Some found deep meaning in the voices of flood survivors. Some used Waterlines as a way to express deeply personal experiences. For others, the flood was a vein connecting Columbia and other parts of the state literally and figuratively. While the flood waters coursed across the state, connecting Columbia to Charleston and the coast, a terrible wound also united the state last year, when a gunman killed nine African Americans during a Bible study at the “Mother Emanuel” church in Charleston.
After a year of stunning tragedies, new beginnings and shifting topographies in the state, Waterlines is our offering to you, an imaginative rethinking of the powerful natural symbols that have defined our community.