A Secret History of American River People is a project to recreate a 1940s shantyboat for a series of epic river voyages to build a collection of personal stories of people who live and work on the river. The collection and shantyboat will be featured in a touring installation as well as an interactive web documentary. Visitors to the shantyboat or its online proxy can explore issues faced by individuals and communities on the river, navigating individual stories, multiple histories, and thematic paths. Secret History seeks to step into the past to bring something forward to inform our present, our thoughts about the fringe edges of society and our own forgotten histories.
Wes Modes is a Santa Cruz artist who has exhibited his sculpture, new media work, and performance regionally since 1996, recently at the FIGMENT art festival in Oakland and the LAST festival in San Jose. He is also a writer, performer, adventurer and community organizer.