Fox River, Illinois, USA


Alice Van Housen with photography by Thomas Van Housen. The dog in the photos is Monberg, he is from Denmark.

I have had a lot of river images/messages since I found out I had breast cancer in early July [2006.] I am having the IV chemo now, only four treatments and then 7 weeks of radiation, then five years of hormone pills. It’s not as bad as it sounds. It was early and small and I almost escape chemo altogether. I’ve had a lot of powerful things happen and a lot of gratitude, and the river messages are all part of that. I was having them before I got your first email, which just enhanced the whole thing. Among other things, I identify with a friend who had cancer two years ago who said “the gift of cancer, which nobody tells you, is that it opens up your river of compassion.

Then I planted a river birch tree (which I’d been wanting to do ever since we moved out here by a river) and got an email from my niece that she has a river birch leaf tattooed on her spine.


The embroidering will help me stay in flow, which is very important right now.
[Alice is embroidering each fabric with the name of the river, location and date. Thanks and graditude to Alice for her wonder and kindness!]

Lake Manasarovar, West Tibet


Johanna Williams is German, living in Beijing and traveled to Tibet on a pilgrimage with white fabric to the region of Burang, near Mount Kallash.  Johanna made a book with Photography by Wike.


On the rebound from trip to Mongolia, Chicago artist Lee tracy stops in at my place in Beijing….

She is showing me photographs of white fabric immersed in river and later laid out to dry on the banks. . . she is telling me of birds circling above…of bugs biting little holes into the fabric… of horses stopping by… of winds… the stars… the solitude… and of the whole universe trying to take part…

I am deeply touched by her words and moved by the trust she has in elements to complete her project (100 Tears, Red Tree, etc)

A year later Lee tracy invites me to participate in the World Rivers Project: “… it is my hope that you can do a river in Beijing… I would love to have you, your spirit and energy, included…  ”

The same day I run out to purchase a long remnant of beautiful white painting silk… but
then I start stalling… the Beijing rivers seem so very uninspiring… they do not speak to me or is it just that I cannot hear their story?

Another note from Lee Tracy arrives… I finally commit “to do a river” (… after the ice melts and before it freezes again…)

The ice did eventually melt… but not my resistance… suddenly a long planned journey to Tibet starts to materialize… (Thank you Wike! Thank you ELW!)… my spirits feel renewed…my energy returns… I recommit…

This silk will be dipped into Lake Manasarovar(…”shaped like the sun”…”created from divine breath”…”shimmering like lapis lazuli”…)
The lake’s overflowing waters, it is said, unite to form the River Ganges…

My storyline develops while I prepare myself for spiritual journey to holy Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar.

May 2006 I still want to ask Mohan to perform sun salutations on this silk…
June/July 2006 – get ready…
August 2006take fabric to Tibet
immerse into Lake Manasarovar
document with photographs(Wike)
let fabric dry on“five colored jewel sand” on banks
tear strips off the fabric to make “katags”(offering scarves)
tie “katags” to important sites throughout the Mount Kailash
Mandala and Kora…       
September 2006 – after returning to Beijing, divide remaining fabric into 3 equal parts
Send part I to Lee Tracy’s studio in Chicago (include photo report and legend)
give part II to Mohan(add gifts from pilgrimage)
keep part III (use as painting silk)

Completing The Circle: donate artwork resulting from part III, or its proceeds, to a nonprofit organization or charity. Thanks!
, for teaching me to go deeper
Wike, for moving this journey from possibility to reality
ELW, for believing in me!
Yogi Mohan, for being an inspiration…18528467-16
Entering The Circle

  • Invite Yogi Mohan to perform Sun Salutations on the silk
  • Take fabric to Tibet

  • Tear strips off to make “katags”(offering scarves)

  • Tie “katags” to important sites throughout the Mount Kailash “Kora”(circular pilgrims path around a sacred place)

  • Immerse fabric into holy Lake Manasarovar
  • Let fabric dry on “five colored jewel sand” on banks of lake

Completing The Circle:

  • After returning to Beijing, divide silk into three equal parts:
  • Send part I to Lee Tracy’s studio in Chicago (include photo report and legend)
  • Give part II to Yogi Mohan (add gifts from pilgrimage)
  • Keep part III (use as painting silk)
  • Donate artwork resulting from part III, or its proceeds, to a nonprofit organization or charity

(When Mohan returned the fabric to me, he said in his charming Indian way…”you could not know… it is such a sacred place for us…nothing we offer to Lord Shiva (Hindu God residing on Mount Kailash) can be touched by the foot…Idid some different variation”… he smiles, looks at his hands, and touches his arms…and I can only imagine those most incredible hand- head and arm- balances he must have performed over the entire 21 meters of silk…)

Since time immemorial
people of the East have believed
that somewhere in the Himalayas,
between China and India,
stood a sacred mountain:
the navel of the earth,
The axis of the universe.


From its summit,
around which the sun and the moon revolve,
flowed a mighty river,
which fell into a lake  
from which stemmed the great rivers of Asia.
this was the holiest of mountains,
revered by Hindus, Buddhist, Jains, and Bon as the home of their gods.
in metaphysical terms it was Meru or Tise,
in the earthly manifestation it was Kailash, the crystal, or Kang Rinpoche, the jewel of the snows.”

“where are you going?” asks Titsang.
“on a pilgrimage” replies Fayen.
“what is the reason for your pilgrimage?” Titsang wants to know:
“I do not know it” replies Fayen.
“To not know comes closest to it’ says Titsang.

(Dialog from Zen Buddhism)Reflections:

I step into the water. It is ice cold… a fierce wind takes hold of the soft and shiny silk and for a moment of breathtaking beauty it is suspended between the sky and the water… sparkling and glistening in the sun… touching the water it goes limp… no golden fish jumps out… no trumpets sounds…and Mount Kailash in the distance is hiding in huge clouds…

Lights dance over the surface of water…
flicker over the silk on the banks…
I gather up the fabric that now holds the essence of holy Lake Manasarovar and tiny little crystals of “five-colored jewel sand.”

Touching my hand to my heart I bow to the waters… the clouds… the winds… and no that mountain in the distance around which the sun and the moon revolve.

Dear Yogi Mohan:
Please consider doing your most beautiful Sun Salutations all over the length of this silk…
In August, I will carry this fabric to Tibet with me through the Himalayas up to the roof of the world… where the whole earth rises to form a temple and the sky is filled with prayer flags and mantras. There I will float the fabric in Lake Manasarovar as part of a global art project.
Your prayers to the Lord of Sun will merge with the waters…the winds…the clouds…the powerful atmosphere right around sacred Mount Kailash and gently spread from there throughout the world.

Volga River, Shestakovo, Russia


Artists Gennady Troshkov, Marina Maslova, Andrei Andreshnikov with photography by Mel Theobald and Robert Weitz.

One of several small villages which once lined the perimeter of the Uglichskoya Sea, Shestakovo was a way-station with a tavern on the road to the cabled barge connecting it to Kalyazin, an ancient Orthodox monestery on the opposite bank of the Volga River. In 1939, Stalin presided over the opening of a Uglichski Power Station and Lock which broadened the sea by raising its water level and creating the Uglich Reservoir. This forced the residents of Shestakovo to raze their homes and relocate them on higher ground. With the opening of the dam, the massive flow of the Volga River provided the region with one of Russia’s earliest hydroelectric turbo generators
Today, the remnants of several dozen 200 year old log construction homes have been abandoned by their ancestral families and are gradually being renovated as “dachas” and second homes by Moscow artists. Located about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Moscow, the Volga is a vast open waterway with barges, freighters and tourist liners breaking the otherwise tranquil landscape.
The Volga is the longest river in Europe, 2,293 miles in length, it has over 200 tributaries comprised of 151,000 rivers and streams. Originating in the Valday Hills region northwest of Moscow, the Volga empties into the Caspian Sea.


The Motoyasu, Kamo, and Sumida River, Japan

A kimono belt stretches and scurries about to touch three rivers.


The Motoyasu River, Hiroshima, Japan


The Kamo River, Kyoto, Japan




The Sumida River, Tokyo, Japan

Photographs by artist, Paul Fortin