Murals by Ellie Balk seen at 4041 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis - River Cities Population Timeline
Murals by Ellie Balk seen at 4041 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis - River Cities Population Timeline
Image credit: JR Productions
Context & Credits
Item River Cities Population Timeline
Created by Ellie Balk
As seen in 4041 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, MO

River Cities Population Timeline

Murals by Ellie Balk, as seen in 4041 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, MO

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Item Details
This mural graphs the population of St. Louis and 11 river cities, chosen by recent boom in tech culture, through time from 1900-2017. Circle graphs are sized based on current population and placed geographically in the space. Lines connect the circles, showing the distance in between the cities and creating shapes that play off of the geometric facets of the bollards.

The graphs show the total population by year and the rate of change in population by year. Each color is a city and a year. The outer ring/color represents the city color. The middle ring of the circle shows population over time, and the inside circle graph shows the percentage of increase in population over time.

The design sparks fun and engagement through its interplay within the physical space and with the data itself. For example, you might notice that years seeing a decline in population are not shown in the middle circle, where you see which years the city had its largest increase in population.

Meet the Creator

Ellie Balk

Ellie Balk

St. Louis, MO

Math and Data Based Public Art

I am an artist obsessed with color, pattern, music and mathematics. Through a process developed over years of working with community groups and high school students, I create systematic rules and use mathematical concepts as the basis of my artwork and installations.

My role in the work is that of a composer. I drive my compositions by creating specific rule sets and color codes that build systems with which can be read and interacted by the viewer. Although the work is formally abstract, there is a language to the compositions that engage participation and investigation.

My work centers around mathematics, but I am not a mathematician. I create musical scores, but I cannot read music nor do I know how to play an instrument. My naivety allows me to dive into an authentic artistic approach to create limitless and arbitrary systems. I am curious about people’s instinctive behavior and use this curiosity to create systems to be deciphered and played with. By manipulating the viewer to create confusion, I formalize the coincidental and emphasize the conscious process of composition that is behind the seemingly random. The viewers role in the work is as important to the work itself.

I have spent the last 15 years making work primarily in the public realm. Through mural painting, installation, musical composition, contemporary approaches to stained glass and performance work, I am interested in making art present and authentic to the experience of now. With this conceptual approach, I encourage the viewer to become part of the art as an added component. The all-inclusive socially engaging nature of my process is a driving force in the art making. I am inspired by ideas of Fluxus instruction performance, generative art and the work of artists Sol Lewitt and contemporary artist Rivane Neuenschwander.

As an educator, I have focused my practice on Visualizing Mathematics. I have had the privilege to work in over 40 schools nationwide to create site specific, permanent installations with high school students. I have also been working with specific schools and school districts in writing curriculum to visualize mathematics and the common core.

I am currently splitting my time between Brooklyn, New York and St. Louis, Missouri, while working internationally. I have been an artist in residence at Arquetopia in Puebla, Mexico, at WAAW in Saint Louis, Senegal, Residencia Corazon in La Plata, Argentina and Artist Residency Thailand in Mae Rim.

Available for commission/custom work

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