Monument Creek is a 27.2 mile stream that flows along Colorado’s Front Range. Cutting through the heart of Colorado Springs, this small but essential waterway is a source of local drinking water and a habitat for many plants and animals. It is also a highly engineered public resource, a site of much restoration and repair, a place of recreation, and home to a growing population of unhoused people. Developed by artist and curator Erin Elder, From Source to Mouth is a community-centered creative research project that engages elements of geology, hydrology, ecology, land use, and history, as well as personal memory and sensory awareness to explore the multiple, overlapping, and sometimes contradictory perspectives about Monument Creek. By placing diverse voices in dialog, the project considers how this often-overlooked landscape has been constructed, restored, shaped, used, revered, protected, and made public.
This exhibition, hosted by the Fine Arts Center, features Erin Elder’s creative response to her multidisciplinary exploration of Monument Creek. It features a set of field drawings that depict the creek’s various aqueducts, overpasses, drains, pipes, canals, and monitoring stations to explore the infrastructure that defines the creek’s many uses. The images are presented alongside excerpts from oral histories collected from area residents and a collection of field-recorded soundscapes. Taken together, these elements render visible and imagine what is unseen, forgotten, or removed from view. As a multisensory contemplation of this specific place, Erin’s work illuminates an interconnectedness that can inspire care for water, land, the past, the future, and each other.
From Source to Mouth is made possible by Creativity & Innovation at Colorado College, where Erin is an Innovator in Residence (2021–2023), and by the Colorado College Cultural Attractions Fund. In addition to this exhibition, the project includes a body of research, a collection of oral histories, a number of student and faculty collaborations, a set of community-led public programs, and a digital story map website. Contributing to the project are individuals from Colorado Springs Utilities, Pikes Peak Waterways, US Fish and Wildlife, Fountain Creek Watershed District, Friends of Monument Valley Park, Palmer Lake Historical Society, Air Force Academy Cultural and Natural Resources Divisions, Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum, Westside Cares, Catholic Charities, Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs City Council, as well as the Colorado College community.
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