LAI guests to speak about how St. Anthony Falls moved

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April 10, 2018

John Coy

Author John Coy  '80

The Mississippi River is approximately 2,350 miles long.

That twisting, turning river features only one natural waterfall — St. Anthony Falls, which many people see and snap pictures of when they walk across the nearby Stone Arch Bridge near downtown Minneapolis.

Did you know that location was not the original spot of the falls? In fact, it was located downriver 12,000 years ago.

Author John Coy — a 1980 Saint John’s University graduate — and artist Gaylord Schanilec will discuss how the falls moved with time and their book project, “My Mighty Journey,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at the Teresa Reception Center Boardroom, Main Building, College of Saint Benedict. The event is free and open to the public.

Coy and Schanilec will be joined by artists Paul Nylander and Barb Eijadi in residence April 18-20 at CSB and SJU.

St. Anthony Falls was originally located downstream where St. Paul is today. Through erosion of the sandstone base, limestone ledges crashed and fell into the river, leaving a trail of massive slabs of rock.

“My Mighty Journey” is told from the first-person perspective of the waterfall. Few books use the narrative perspective of nature, and this provides new ways to look at time, history and place.

Coy began working on the text over 23 years ago. Schanilec and his team use relief printmaking techniques with type-high blocks manufactured from found images, many of them from along the riverbank, to create stunning images.

The book, which has been in production since 2015, illustrates the falls’ “12,000 year journey up the Mississippi.” Coy and Schanilec did a presentation on the project in 2016 at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts’ exhibit “The River: Memory and Metaphor on the Mississippi.”

While in residence, the artists will visit various classes at CSB and SJU, including making print broadsides in Rachel Melis’ art classes.

Their appearance is sponsored by the Literary Arts Institute at CSB.