A trip to the prairie connects young Black artists from St. Louis to nature
Azzy Shaw is not a “nature person,” but on her first visit to a prairie land, she embraced the landscape and all it has to offer.
“Honestly, if we actually took the time and patience to learn about [nature] and not try to take advantage of it, we will understand how peaceful it really is,” Shaw said.
Shaw is a poet with St. Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective. Every year, the members go to Shaw Nature Reserve in Franklin County, Mo., to immerse themselves in nature.
Many of the young Black artists living in St. Louis said their access to nature is limited. The Peace in the Prairie trip is often their first chance to engage with it.
As a youth artistic coordinator with Story Stitchers, Branden Lewis has been to the prairie a few times. He said the stark difference between city and nature sounds still surprises him and his peers.
“You know city life can be really loud,” Lewis said. “It's just noise, just noise all the time. And you don't even realize that you're in noise all the time until we come out to a place like this and realize how quiet it is.”
The participants say the native grassland’s serenity is a chance for personal rejuvenation and reflection.
“I'm enjoying this really well. It literally just took a lot of stress out of my shoulder, out of my head and now I'm in a calm place,” Shaw said.
As artists and storytellers of various mediums, their experiences outdoors also serve as a muse for their artistry. Through performances and exhibitions, they’ll share what they learned through the prairie environment with the St. Louis community.
What: St. Louis Story Stitchers Peace in the Prairie performance
When: 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 1
Where: St. Louis Art Museum (One Fine Arts Drive, St. Louis, MO 63110
To hear more about how an annual trip to the prairie inspires young Story Stitchers artists, listen to the full St. Louis on the Air conversation on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, or by clicking the play button below.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Ulaa Kuziez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to email@example.com.