Carnegie Center is Currently Closed | Hours

This is the Ohio; Life Death Rebirth of the Beautiful River
A Documentary by Morgan Atkinson

Earth Day, Monday, April 22, 2024

6:00-8:00 pm

The Cultural Arts Center is pleased to present on Earth Day a showing of writer and producer Morgan Atkinson’s recent documentary about the Ohio River. This is the Ohio; Life Death Rebirth of the Beautiful River looks upon the 981 mile length of the Ohio River from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois by examining how people perceive and experience this national treasure. The film premiered in Louisville last January and has been well received by enthusiastic, river-connected communities wherever it has been screened. Free to the public, registration required due to limited seating.

Atkinson created this documentary to help boost the overall reputation of the Ohio River, which has been derided as among the dirtiest rivers in America. The Ohio River needs a voice and Atkinson’s film provides a contemporary one. The Ohio was originally named the “Beautiful River” by the first Americans who lived here and who were sustained by its natural bounty. That was then but today, the Ohio River is one of the most commercialized rivers in the world.  Misperceptions can be hard to dispel and hinder attempts at making improvements. If a person believes something is particularly so, it can be hard to convince them that it is otherwise. 

Evidence has shown, however, that despite ongoing issues, the waters of the Ohio River are in fact cleaner, especially since the passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972. The river now supports more wildlife and the diversity of fish species recorded in the Ohio and its tributaries has rebounded since water protections were put into place. The biggest positive change in our immediate area over the last twenty five years is a re-acknowledgement by Indiana and Kentucky’s river communities that the Ohio River does indeed flow through or by them and thus we should care. To be concerned about the overall quality of the water is to be involved with aesthetics, by definition.

The life and fate of the Ohio River is a complex subject with many overlapping and often competing interests. Atkinson’s film balances viewpoints ranging from those that see the river as a necessary and vital element of our national security and economy to those who would prefer to recreate along a more naturally, free-flowing river. Atkinson’s documentary supplies the needed gravitas, but does so with some humor as well. The filmmaker interweaves interesting tales of the river’s past with the many ways people connect with the river today. Among the people interviewed include Al Gorman, a.k.a. the Artist at Exit 0, who has worked for over twenty years with art making using river-bourne materials he pulls off the riverbank at the Falls of the Ohio State Park. Gorman has also been a longtime staff member at the old Carnegie Center for Art and History (now the Floyd County Carnegie Library Cultural Arts Center).

Since the late 1980s, Morgan Atkinson has produced about a dozen documentaries that have been broadcast on public television. A linked idea in many of them is how the human spirit shines and is elevated in the presence of nature. Among Atkinson’s other documentaries include this trio of films: Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton, The Many Storeys and Last Days of Thomas Merton, and Gethsemani which examines the influential monk’s history and monastic life outside bucolic Bardstown, Kentucky. A similar reverence for the subject comes through in Wonder: The Lives of Anna and Harlan Hubbard which is narrated by farmer/poet Wendell Berry and is also set on the Ohio. Atkinson has also produced films that highlight Louisville’s artistic culture and history including Our Library: A Louisville Documentary that explores the value, meaning, and impact of a free public library as a quality of life issue. This topic is also of great interest to staff and patrons of the Floyd County Library and its branches.

The documentary This is the Ohio; Life Death Rebirth of the Beautiful River was sponsored by Dr. David Wicks, founder of River City Paddle Sports, who has been an influential water advocate in our area. Showings and presentations of this film have also been sponsored by such water advocacy groups as the Kentucky Waterways Alliance and the Ohio River Way among others. 

Join us in this celebration of Morgan Atkinson’s film on the actual Earth Day, Monday, April 22 from 6:00-8:00 pm. Don’t forget to register to see this film, meet Morgan Atkinson, and celebrate Earth Day on Earth Day! 

Register Now

SHARE THIS WITH FRIENDS

Join our email list