"Four Rivers" Fabric Art
Pere Marquette State Park
The "Four Rivers" Fabric Art hangs in the
center of the Great Room at the Pere Marquette State Park Lodge. Consisting
of 4 large hangings, the piece depicts the world of nature surrounding the
Park and the Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio rivers. Celebrated artist and art professor at Southern
Illinois University at Carbondale, M. Joan Lintault, created the piece. She was selected to create a
piece of art in a competition sponsored by the Illinois Art in Architecture
Program. State Law requires that public art be put into every state building
with 0.5% of each buildingís construction cost be set aside to acquire the
art. Lintault was paid $20,000 for the piece. "I probably got 50 cents
an hour by the time I was finished," she said with a smile. "I
could have done something that didnít take much time, but money isnít
the reason I do it."
6,000 cotton leaves of every hue, with no two alike,
are layered on fabric, invoking the image of leaves on a riverbank or
floating on water. In addition, there are stuffed turtles, fish, birds,
frogs, butterflies, snakes, dragonflies, and ticks to add dimension.
Everything was hand-cut, hand-dyed and hand-printed. Lintault used 358 yards
of cotton, 135 yards of fusible fabric, 68 yards of nylon netting, 96 yards
of hand-dyed cheese cloth, lots of cotton cording and over 30,000 yards of
thread. Although the exact weight of each piece is unknown, when workers
hung the piece in July of 1995, they needed a forklift, ropes and pulleys.
Each panel is an 11-foot by 18-foot rectangle, but
when draped on its frame, take on a wing-like shape. Lintault has a story
about that. "The funny thing was, part of Illinois has the history of
the Piasa Bird. I wanted to do something about the Piasa Bird, but couldnít
figure out how Iíd work it into the piece. The day it was hung, I was
sitting in the lobby, I looked up and said: "My God, it looks like I
wanted - Piasa Bird wings." It wasnít until I had seen it up, that I
realized it." According to local lore, the Piasa
Bird was a large man-eating bird that was conquered when a courageous
chief offered himself as sacrifice.