This Artist Is Rediscovering Southern America In His Homemade “Shanty Boat”
Entertainment| | By David Clarke
There are numerous ways to travel these days like in the air, on the rails, or across the seas. Most of the time sea travel is either via a cruise ship or yacht, but an American artist recently changed the rules of the game with a unique method of water travel.
Using the creative imagination that most artists have in common, he designed and constructed a “shanty boat” to take him down the Tennessee River. Why the Tennessee River specifically?
American history is full of various individuals and cultures that contributed to the development of the country. Native American tribes were one of the cultures that played a large part.
Southern America has numerous waterways and rivers, and those water paths are a very integral part of Native American culture. Those waters have played host to trade, travel, and fishing. Many Natives even chose to live on the water in little shacks that also served as boats to travel through the current.
These people of the river, or “river people” as they’re sometimes called, don’t have a prominent notation in American history books. This artist and his crew plan to change that by shedding some light on the less frequently mentioned history of Southern America.
This group did it all in their homemade “shanty boat,” and if you keep reading you’ll see how cool this project is!
The artist is Wes Modes, and along with his crew, they’re traveling through the South on this unique homemade boat. The fact that the design bears a resemblance to a “shanty boat” is intentional as they’re trying to draw attention to those who have been forgotten in American history. The term “shanty boat” originates from the term “shanties,” which are poorly built huts or cabins that act as homes.
Modes constructed the boat entirely with reclaimed materials, and he’s using it on his journey entitled “The Secret History of American River People.” “I’m really interested in talking to people who don’t really represent the mainstream cultural story in history,” Modes commented.
Modes commented that “rivers are more gentrified than they’ve ever been.” He continued by saying, “Rivers became white and increasingly profited off of, and that means the communities living on and around the river included a more diverse population — poor people, people of color, native people — those stories are almost entirely lost.”
The full group includes Lauren Benz, Jeremiah Daniels, Penske Pocketknife, Adrian Nankivell, and their loyal canine companion Hazel.
The interior of the boat is very simple, but it includes a stove, sink, a couch, some personal items, and essential tools to live on the river.
During their journey, the crew is attempting to help recognize those who have been forgotten but actually helped to shape the history of this country.
Would you ever live on a “shanty boat” like this? Let us know in the comments! You can stay up to date with Modes and his crew on Instagram, Facebook, and their website.
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