STL Exhibition Highlights Mississippi Watershed in Stunning Photos

Photographer and Sculptor Use Beautiful Markers to Focus on Importance of Rivers

November 9, 2018 | 2 min reading time

This article is 4 years old. It was published on November 9, 2018.

Two St. Louis area artists are sharing unique views of the Mississippi drainage basin by combining photography and sculpture to highlight the wealth and importance of its rivers.   

St. Louis Lambert International Airport is proud to unveil Watershed Cairns, an exhibition of six large-scale photographic images featuring dream-like glass markers, or cairns, in dynamic landscapes contained in the Mississippi river basin. 

The photographs, enlarged to nearly 7 ft. tall, are exhibited in light display boxes on the passageways between the lower level of Terminal 1 and Baggage Claim.

“Water marked with art makes a visual connection between land and water and provides an opening for community discussion about fresh water,” said sculptor Libby Reuter. She and photographer Joshua Rowan have created almost 200 photographic images in their Watershed Cairns series.  

Reuter builds the sculptures from found household or antique glass. The cairns are temporarily placed on land or in water to mark the watershed with the glass representing the fragile and beautiful nature of the setting. 

The Airport exhibition features cairns dwarfed by huge wind mills, aglow at night on the outskirts of a forest fire, centered in front of a typical Midwest grain silo, soaking up a sunset in grasslands, and delicately perched near or right in the middle of a bubbling stream. Their images are traced as far north as Lake Itasca, Minnesota, the source of the Mississippi River.

They have traveled as far west as the Centennial Mountains of Montana, following the path of the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi north of St. Louis. In 2019, the artists plan to continue to mark the river with glass cairns from St. Louis all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.  

“The objective is to celebrate the Mississippi River basin’s water wealth—the 40 percent of the continental United States that provides drinking water for 50 million people, and irrigation for 90 percent of the nation’s agricultural exports,” Reuter said. 

Watershed Cairns will be on exhibit through November 2019 with support from the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission. Libby Reuter and Joshua Rowan were chosen to exhibit in the Lambert Art & Culture Program through the Airport’s seven-member Airport Art Advisory Committee.

Current members are Lisa Cakmak, Associate Curator of Ancient Art at Saint Louis Art Museum; Ellen Gale, Executive Director Clayton Chamber of Commerce; Shelley Hagan, Wells Fargo Curator Corporate Art; Leslie Markle, Curator of Public Art, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum; Kiku Obata, Founding Principal of Kiku Obata & Co.; Roseann Weiss, consultant with ART+; and design artist and illustrator Carlos Zamora.  

The mission of the Lambert Art and Culture Program is to create a visually outstanding impression of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, generate community pride, and ensure that art at the airport continues to complement and build upon the airport’s rich visual legacy.

The program aims to highlight the St. Louis region’s unique art and culture, while also showcasing national and international works, focusing on both visual and performing arts.

Currently, there are 29 works of art (temporary, permanent or on-loan) on exhibit at the Airport. For more information, visit


  • Contact Information:
    Jeff Lea
    Public Relations Manager
    Office Phone: (314) 426-8125
    Mobile Phone: (314) 795-2235
  • Department:
    St. Louis Lambert International Airport
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