Story Stitchers receives Annual Grant from Missouri Arts Council

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is pleased to announce that our program, Peace in the Prairie, has received an Annual Program Grant from Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Peace in the Prairie is an original presentation exploring the concepts of peace and violence, juxtaposing urban life as experienced by African American people living in the city of St. Louis, Missouri and the state’s endangered prairie lands.

Is the path towards peace through Missouri’s native prairies? 

Peace in the Prairie be presented for public viewing June 15-29, 2021 at Laumeier Sculpture Park in Sunset Hills, Missouri.

Peace in the Prairie expands the artistic body of work of African American artists in the Collective, addresses the community need of understanding violence while seeking peace, supports the exploration of new natural settings by both artists and audiences, and supports the greater understanding of Missouri’s unique natural heritage in its native prairie lands.

“An unusual and creative juxtaposition between social issues and nature.”

YES! The poets and the video intertwining gun violence and nature captured me, intrigued me and made me crave for more!”

“Much more than an artistic outlet, but a therapeutic, healing oasis!”

“One of the most appealing aspects of Peace in the Prairie is the unfolding nature of the project over time. This enables room for reflection at each stage and for the creation of a refined final piece of art. This approach has clearly been thought out and is being led well.”

For Missouri citizens, Peace in the Prairie gives voice to citizens suffering from the effects of gun violence, bridging rural and urban cultures. “Gun violence includes homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings resulting in injuries and death. In 2017, Missouri had the fifth-highest firearm death rate in the nation (per capita). The homicide rate in St. Louis continues to be far higher than the national average and roughly double the rate of cities of comparable size and geography. In addition, suicides have increased 36% from 1999 to 2018 in the state (the 19th highest rate in the nation). Firearms account for 61% of suicide deaths in Missouri, making it the leading means of suicide by a wide margin. Gun violence in all its forms leaves lasting scars on communities, affecting overall health and well-being,” explained Jessi LaRose, a Senior Strategist for Initiatives at Missouri Foundation for Health.

This July, 2020, St. Louis has suffered 50 homicides and the deadliest July in two decades.

For Missouri’s prairies, Peace in the Prairie brings exposure and greater awareness of the intrinsic natural beauty of the region, historically and currently, to new audiences. According to the Missouri Prairie Foundation, a tall grass prairie is an ecosystem dominated by grasses, with some non-woody, flowering herbaceous plants in the mix, and 10 percent or less of tree cover. “More than one-third of Missouri was prairie once upon a time,” says Doug Ladd, director of conservation science for the Missouri Nature Conservancy. “Fifty percent of St. Louis city and county was prairie, managed largely by Native Americans.” Less than one half of 1 percent of the original tall grass prairies remain in Missouri, making them one of the most endangered habitats in the world” (‘Restoring the prairie, Missouri’s endangered habitat’, by Hilary Davidson from St. Louis Public Radio, 2013).

During Covid-19 and beyond, our natural environments become our safe spaces. Peace in the Prairie explores protection of each other and the planet that we all share.