Site specific installations / Gallery Shows / Short Films / Process & Events / Partners & Funders

Ancient New reveals how the flow of water connects people along a major American river system. This project started with short experimental films and site specific installations and is expanding inclue live cinematic performances such as the Trash Trout Motion Picture Show.

Plastic Confluence #3, plastic shopping bags and barrel hoop savaged from the New River  

Future plans for Ancient New include a series of site specific festivals that connect water protectors with traditional artists. At these events, crowdsourced experimental films will provide a backdrop for live performances featuring traditional songs, stories, and dance from the New River, which flows from the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina though Virginia and West Virginia before emptying into the Ohio River. This project is designed to be replicated downstream in communities along the Ohio and the Mississippi Rivers.

Site Specific Installations

Three Channel Installation for the 2022 New River Symposium at Bechtel Summit Reserve’s Sustainability Treehouse, Glen Jean, West Virginia
Like it Is – Site specific installation on the North Fork of the New River in Sutherland, North Carolina
Look Closer – Site specific installation on the North Fork of the New River in Sutherland, North Carolina

Plastic Confluence series from Trash Trout Picture Show exhibit at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum in 2022. Photo by Lauren Armbrust, courtesy of BRAHM.

In the past, I partnered with Turchin Center for Visual Arts and New River Conservancy to collect trash from river cleanups and create a 90 foot long map of the river. This image is of a 2016 collaborative installation at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Boone, North Carolina.  I worked with curator Mary Anne Redding, the New River Conservancy, and students to create this map from trash collected from the New River. Also featured in the photo is a site-specific mural by Joni Ray (far right) and photographs by Joshua White and Maggie Flanigan (far left). You can view more images of the process of creating the installation, or read a case study of this process is published in the EcoArt in Action book

Images from The Ancient New in The Land at the Indiana Wesleyan University’s Beard Gallery, 2018

Short Films

To date I have three completed three short films for the Ancient New project: Water Cycle, Benthic Salvage, and Does Water Die? 

I am working on two additional short films tentatively titled Turbulence and Confluence. This set of five films will become the backbone for the Ancient New project and support future collaborations with community organizations working to ensure equitable access to clean water.   The films will provide a visual backdrop for the live events along the river, and screen at art galleries and film festivals.

Process and Events

The Ancient New is a highly participatory project.  I am collaborating with organizations, artists, and interested folks throughout the 320 mile long New River Valley to create films, visual art, and participatory art, and live events that meet the needs of local partners at each site. My goal is not to prescribe solutions, but rather to start conversations, allow people to use their own knowledge and experiences to connect to the river in a personal way.

The Trash Trout Motion Picture Show is one example.  During the spring of 2022, I partnered with the Town of Boone, North Carolina and the Watauga Riverkeeper to collect plastic bags and other debris from a passive stormwater debris collector nicknamed the Trash Trout. After the trash was collected, we offered free public workshops for residents of all ages to create their own short films by taping small pieces of plastic and other river debris to clear 16mm film leader.  Then, I spliced the film clips together into a 16mm silent film reel titled The Trash Trout Motion Picture Show, and collaborated with musicians and dancers to create a live soundtrack.  Images from the workshops and video clips of performances are available here.

Partners and Funders

The first set of events for this project will be held along the New River’s headwaters in Boone North Carolina.  These events are produced in collaboration with partners including


Appalachian State University’s Center for Appalachian Studies
Lillian E Smith Center / Piedmont College
North Carolina Arts Council