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"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.

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