This past Earth Day was slated to mark the opening of Mary Mattingly’s Public Water project at Prospect Park. While the project is currently on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are using this time to reflect upon environmental stewardship and commons. Below Mattingly reflects on Public Water from quarantine, where she’s washing her clothes in the sink, and in the next couple of weeks, we will launch a year-long social media campaign titled “A year of (Public) Water,” and a dedicated website.
In the face of ever-shrinking shared common space, Public Water was instigated by the need to strengthen commons together. It was important to align with Earth Day to acknowledge the interdependencies that make up our intertwined lives as humans: it goes without saying that we are, of course, part of and dependent on earth.
Due to heavy use of agricultural chemicals, I grew up without clean drinking water not far from New York City. Therefore, learning about the New York City drinking watershed came with the territory when I moved to Brooklyn in 2001. As a New York City resident, I’m dependent on New Yorkers who live within and protect the drinking watershed for city residents. They are life partners with me and over eight million people, but that relationship has to be more equitable.
The history of New York City’s drinking watershed is messy and cruel, coming at enormous expenses to those in what is now considered watershed territory. But these histories are always still in the making. With New York on pause we celebrated Earth Day from our homes. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of recognizing the people behind the services we take for granted, including utilities. During this time, I’m asking New York City residents to forge deeper relationships between those who care for one of our most basic needs. How can NYC residents appreciate the rarely-seen labor NYS residents (and nonhumans) do? The NYC drinking watershed is considered one of the best water systems in the world. From a policy perspective it has become more equitable over time, but there’s still more work to do. How can New York City residents strengthen these relationships, and therefore our shared commons, together?
In response to the current global pandemic and nationwide shutdown, Trans Boxing has adapted their work in exploratory ways. In addition to moving their weekly classes to a virtual platform, Engaging Artists Resident Nola Hanson is developing an offshoot project, titled Trans Boxing Conceptual Exercises. The project invites participants to follow instructions and submit documentation of completed exercises which formalize the rituals of boxing training. The parameters of the work re-claim the day-to-experiences of the boxer and position them as conceptual artworks in and of themselves.
Sample Exercises + Instructions:
1. Make a Motion Study.
Make a video of yourself (10-20 seconds or so) throwing the following combination: 1-1-2-3-2-3. (1=jab, 2=cross, 3=hook). The video does not have to include your face, or even your hands, but some part of your body should be included in the shot. Collect 2-6 stills from the video that you find compelling, or interesting. Arrange them in any sequence you’d like.
2. Take a Picture of the Inside of Your Glove.
Take picture of the inside of your glove. The shot should only include the interior of the glove, and should not reveal any other objects or body parts.
3.Take an Epsom Salt Bath.
After a workout, take a bath with Epsom salt. If you have a fan in your bathroom, turn it off so that the room can fill with steam. The bathwater should be hot. As the tub is filling up, pour in 4-5 pounds of Epsom salt. Run your hand through the water to break up any clumps and to make sure the salt has fully dissolved. After you’re done with your bath, and before your drain the tub, take a photograph.
IMAGE: Take a Picture of the Inside of Your Glove, Liv Adler, Brooklyn, NY.
Ed Giardina and Devon Tsuno along with their student artists from Cypress College Art Department and CSU Dominguez Hills PRAXIS art engagement program + DHAC student art club are voluntarily working together (remotely) to construct, assemble, and distribute face shields to communities in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These southern California communities include healthcare and essential workers, such as hospitals and clinics, senior communities, grocery and delivery workers, public-transportation riders, and other under-funded non-profits. Their efforts have been funded by donations made by people across the globe via social media.
This is a flexible, temporary coalition of volunteers that will try and be responsive to the changing conditions of this pandemic. Selected participants have committed to using provided equipment and materials to only print PPE (personal protection equipment) for a minimum of 1-3 months, 8-12 hours per day, and 7 days a week to produce the maximum amount of PPE possible. PPE must only be donated FREE of charge through regional 3D PPE networks or to any groups or individuals who are healthcare or essential workers at risk. Participants do not accept payment or gifts for PPE.
All participants believe it is vital in this operation to maintain the utmost safety, working from home, following recommended guidelines from healthcare and science experts and not engage in direct contact with people. We believe in being safe as the number one priority. Upon completion of the project, all remaining printers and supplies will be kept by participants as a small token of gratitude for their service for creative purposes, and future efforts of good.
On May 15, 2020 at 6:30pm EST More Art’s Engaging Artists fellows will participate in a workshop via zoom with Ed Giardina and Devon Tsuno. The event is open to current and alumni Engaging Artists Fellows. If you are an EA fellow and would like to attend, please email email@example.com
Ed Giardina is an interdisciplinary artist and educator who lives and works in the Los Angeles area. His research interests include socially engaged art, old and new media, and design. He teaches full time at Cypress College. He is also a founding member of Finishing School. Established in 2001, Finishing School is a socially engaged artist collective that playfully explores an expansive range of subject and media territories at the many intersections of art, play, power, politics, praxis, participation, and the everyday. The collective has five members who represent a broad range of skills and research interests. Finishing School produces interdisciplinary actions, installations, workshops, design, publications, film, studio art, performance and new media.
Devon Tsuno: Los Angeles is always described as a city of sprawl. But it is also a massively layered city, growing amidst social stratification and an unsound ecology — people battling for space and an array of international horticulture left as evidence. Neighborhoods are populated, vacated and then repopulated. Communities united and communities restructured. Working with spray paint and acrylic on handmade Japanese, Dutch and Indian papers, my most recent series of paintings focuses on the Los Angeles landscape’s non-native plants and bodies of water. These abstractions of densely layered water and plants are re-imagined from photographs taken on cycling, fly fishing and commuting sojourns on the streets of Los Angeles along the San Gabriel River, Ballona Creek, Los Angeles River, and the Mid-Wilshire area of the city. These paintings document the light, color, community, history and visual confrontations of pictorial and abstract space using color theory and hard edge abstraction analogous to the diversity of my neighbors.
Most recent experimentation has resulted in a series of prints created with a Risograph, a 1990s-era printing system using technology similar to fax machines, screen printing and designed for high-volume photocopying and printing. I am re-purposing this machine to create a series of artist’s books and prints in collaboration other artists, schools and community members. These prints and books are being distributed in the tens of thousands in the greater Los Angeles area to document the Los Angeles watershed and tributaries.
My practice recalls a city organism composed of intense color and beautifully controlled concrete with space and light well integrated, but often interdicted by violently unexpected layers of vegetation and water. These modes of observation, process, recollection, and criticism, dictate how I choose to work. It is living in the world of Los Angeles that interests me.
It is in a time like this that we become even more aware of the great vulnerability of arts organizations and artists in a country like the United States—and of just how much this precarity is linked to public health and access to vital resources. As a public art organization with a mission of service, we see this as an essential moment to continue to champion the things art does best: heal, inform, connect, re/present, and fill in the gaps where institutions fail us. We are in the process of gathering resources and making contingency plans for how best we can not only serve our immediate community, but the public to whom we’ve always strived to make more art available.
As the guidelines for addressing the spread of COVID-19 continue to evolve, so too do our response and strategy as an organization. We’re currently working to assess the best ways to continue to support our community of artists, residents, fellows, and extended network, as well as to reconsider our anticipated calendar for public projects.
Our 2020 public art projects by Mary Mattingly and Krzysztof Wodiczko each shed light onto the very systemic fallacies and misrepresentations that we have watched at play in the initial botched response to the novel coronavirus pandemic by the US government. Unfortunately, however, it is necessary for us to announce that all planned April dates for the opening and associated programs for Mattingly’s Public Water as well as any other public-facing programs or events, are on hold until further notice. Pre-production of Wodiczko’s project has also been delayed.
We remain committed to all our programs for 2020, but at this time we are unable to offer alternative dates given the number of factors involved in creating the work and in safeguarding everybody’s health. As the situation becomes clearer, we will share the new calendar of events, and look forward to seeing you in person. In the meantime, we are exploring virtual programming around these works, through More Art directly and through our community partners, and will keep you posted on that as well.
Activities for our Engaging Artists fellowship and residency program have moved online, where our staff is holding both planned and additional weekly sessions, providing both the intended tools for long-term support and more immediate resources and strategies in this time of uncertainty and precariousness. If anything, there has been a renewed vigor in the building of our EA community, where we are working closely with each other to build solidarity and possibility, seeking ways to serve and connect both to one another and to our extended networks.
Also: as a good place to start for COVID-19 if you’re looking for resources for artists and arts organizations, we recommend this incredible crowd-sourced list started by Common Field. Please add information you may know to the document, and/or consider sending resources you know of our way, to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll continue sharing them through our networks.
Sending you hope, possibility, and health in this challenging time. In solidarity, the Team at More Art
Interdisciplinary artist Mengxi “Althea” Rao creates social engagement models to facilitate open and playful conversations around topics that are traditionally associated with shame and negativity, such as inherited privilege, mental illness, gender and sexuality. Her works empower individuals and help them find reconciliation with their cultures and selves. “Humans exist in the physical realm but my art does not.” Mediums Rao has explored include, but are not restricted to: film and video, multimedia installation, live performance, light sculpture, public space activation, rituals, dance, and choir singing.
Rao has lived and worked in China, Japan and the US, and received training in journalism and filmmaking. She was a Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow in 2016, and most recently a mentee in NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program, a toolmaker-in-residence at Signal Culture (Owego, NY), and a Social Impact Fellow at Halcyon Arts Lab (Washington DC). Her work on gender equity was featured during By the People Festival in 2019. During her time in the nation’s capital, she has set up multi-iterations of public space activations at the Goethe Institut, Corcoran School of Arts, Smithsonian Freer|Sackler Gallery, The French Embassy, and Hirshhorn Museum.
Rao is currently an artist-in-residence at Artspace New Haven.
Amy Khoshbin is an Iranian-American Brooklyn-based artist and activist. Her practice advocates for changing commercial culture by using popular media genres to create discomfort and subsequent catharsis. She has shown at venues such as The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Times Square Arts, The High Line, Socrates Sculpture Park, VOLTA Art Fair, PULSE Art Fair, Leila Heller Gallery, Arsenal Contemporary, National Sawdust, BRIC Arts, and festivals such as River to River and South by Southwest. She has received residencies at spaces such as The Watermill Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Anderson Ranch, Project for Empty Space, and Banff Centre for the Arts. She has received a Franklin Furnace Fund and a Rema Hort Mann Artist Community Engagement Grant. Khoshbin received an MA from New York University in Tisch School of the Arts and a BA in Film and Media Studies at University of Texas at Austin. She has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Karen Finley, Tina Barney, and poets Anne Carson and Bob Currie among others. Bringing together electoral politics and artmaking, Amy is running for City Council in District 38 of Brooklyn in 2021 to ensure space for underrepresented voices in our political system and to shift our culture towards one of creativity and compassion.
Bryanna Bradley is a body-based broad, notorious ballet class crybaby, and Southeast Queens local circa 1995. During the Summer of 2016, Bradley participated in The School at Jacob’s Pillow under the tutelage of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (Urban Bush Women) and shadowed Camille A. Brown through her Black Girl Spectrum program. Bradley premiered her dance work buck: an exploration of black masculinity in Nick Cave’s exhibit Until at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art while scrambling to finish college. Bradley’s other work has been seen at Poe Park, The Knockdown Center, and the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning.
Cody Ann Herrmann is a New York City based artist and community organizer with an interest in participatory design methods, public space, and urban resilience. Through multidisciplinary arts, community engagement exercises, and grassroots organizing, she applies an iterative, human centered approach to environmental problem solving. Since 2014 Cody’s work has revolved around her hometown of Flushing, Queens, creating a series of projects critiquing policy related to land use and environmental planning in areas surrounding Flushing Bay and Creek. This ongoing series of socially engaged work has led her to collaborate on all-ages public programs with numerous environmental and civic groups working locally in Queens.
Cody is currently a Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning Jerome Foundation Artist in Residency Fellow. She has participated in the Works on Water / Underwater New York artist in residency program, and has been a recipient of the Waterfront Alliance City of Water Day Award. She has presented work as part of Open Engagement, and has been featured in Hyperallergic. Cody holds an undergraduate degree from Parsons School of Design, and an MFA from Social Practice Queens at CUNY Queens College.
Luisa Valderrama was born in Colombia and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She holds an MFA in Sculpture from Pratt Institute with Honors (2018), a BFA in Painting and Drawing and a BA in Art History from Los Andes University, Colombia (2014). Her work draws on her autobiographical experience of growing up between the rural region and the urban life in the city of Bogota. She is a recipient of a NYFA 2019 Mentoring Program (NY), a 2019 thematic residency at RU-Residency Unlimited (NY), 2019 MASS MoCA Resident (MA), a 2019 Marble House Residency (VT), and a Sculpture Space residency for 2020 (NY), amongst others. She has participated in numerous exhibitions in Colombia and New York and collaborates with 4-18, a nonprofit community-based art organization in Colombia. Solo exhibitions: Hato [’a.to] in Steuben Gallery at Pratt Institute, 2018. Selected projects and group exhibitions include Mediated Mediations curated by Niama Sandy; Boiling Point at The Boiler Pierogi in 2018 curated by Regine Basha. Half a Wave at the Pfizer Building in Brooklyn curated by Christine Rebhuhn, 2018; The Latin American Contemporary Fine Art Competition, New York, 2018. Crossings, at El Sótano Art Space, Brooklyn, 2018. And Entramado at Espacio Alterno Gallery curated by Lorenzo Freydell Vanstaseghem, Bogota, Colombia, 2016.
Mafe Izaguirre is a New York-based artist, graphic designer, and educator. Her work explores the artificial mind framed by the ideas of philosophical post-humanism: a movement that poses the human as a plural, fluid and de-centered being living in multiple spaces of interaction with machines, software, other species, and spiritual hybrid systems. Framed as The Mind Project, fragments of her cybernetic installations have been exhibited in Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Izaguirre graduated from PROdiseño School of Visual Communication, specializing in Digital Media (2002). In 2016, she studied digital fabrication at Cooper Union. Izaguirre is an artist member of the Long Island City Artist Association. She works as a tech mentor at Mouse Inc, DreamYard Project (Bronx), and as co-founder and Creative Director of ROOM: A Sketchbook for Analytic Action, an online psychoanalytic magazine created by IPTAR members. Since 2018, Izaguirre is a Board Member of the humanitarian Foundation Cuatro Por Venezuela. www.mafeizaguirre.com
Sean Desiree is a self taught artist and furniture maker, born and raised in the Bronx. They use wood from found pallets, demolished buildings, and discarded scraps to create works informed by the language of geometry and their commitment to highlight stories of resistance. Their most recent solo show LIFTED: Public Housing, an Aerial Perspective is a collection of two-dimensional works depicting aerial views of seven public housing units in Hudson, NY. The title holds dual meaning, referencing the series’ intent to support residents of public housing through both a grant and the creation and celebration of work that reflects the inherent beauty in the units. It also refers to the literal and metaphorical perspective shift involved in portraying the buildings from an aerial view. In the summer of 2019, they released their debut coffee table collection, QUILTS, a series that pays tribute to the women of Gee’s Bend, a small, remote, Black community in Alabama that created magnificent quilts starting in the 1920s.
In addition to being a visual artist they are also a musician with the solo project, bell’s roar. In 2018, they produced the ART FUNDS ART TOUR a seven city concert series that ran from Albany, NY to Atlanta, GA. At each performance they selected one local queer and/or trans artist of color to receive a grant funded by the profits from ticket sales.
Yemisi “Juliana” Luna
Yemisi “Juliana” Luna is on a journey as a multidisciplinary artist, leader, mentor, and narratorial creator. Her mission is to empower women through movement, ancestral awareness, and intuitive knowledge. Luna is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but currently traveling the world designing shared experiences for people of every background. Through her studies and research Luna created The ALUNA method, a system for holistic understanding of our emotional bodies through a lunar perspective. With the ALUNA method, she bridges people together and allows their stories to bloom. Luna brings forth to our contemporary world the creative power present in inhabiting our bodies with confidence, awareness and compassion.
In May 2015 she was invited to go on a trip to reconnect with her ancestral roots where a DNA test revealed that her ancestors come from Nigeria, more precisely, the Yoruba nation. As the co-founder of the Instagram-based movement Project Tribe, whose motto is “your crown inspires”, she learned that the knowledge about her ancestry proved to be a turning point in her personal narrative.
Later Luna created the Yemisi Experience, a program that presents Yoga, head wrapping, writing, intuitive movement, and conversations around identity and belonging as a channel of connectivity for individuals to bond with themselves while fostering a holistic environment.
Today, Luna uses her art to empower not only the next generation of Afro-Brazilians, but also the next generation of women to be confident in where they come from and the stories they’re meant to tell.
meet the artist in residence.
Nola Hanson with Trans Boxing
Nola Hansonis a trans artist whose practice centers the role of embodiment in contemporary social systems. Nola received their BFA in Painting and Art Criticism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2014. In 2015, they started boxing at the New Bed Stuy Boxing Center, a community-run gym in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, where they continue to train. Nola’s practice includes independent work and collaborative socially engaged projects. Their work has been shown in New York, Chicago, Portland, and Milwaukee. Nola is currently an MFA candidate in the Art and Social Practice program at Portland State University.
Hill Donnell with Trans Boxing
Hill Donnell is an athlete, organizer and educator born in Torino, Italy and raised on the US Gulf Coast. Their pedagogical and creative practice seeks to engage critical perspectives on technological change, embodiment and the promise of participatory governance. Hill serves as Policy and Programs Manager at Athlete Ally, a NYC based non-profit working to end homophobia and transphobia in sport. Hill began boxing in 2016 and started organizing with Trans Boxing in 2017, shortly after moving to New York.
Where: CUE Art Foundation, 137 West 25th Street (between 6th & 7th Aves), NYC 10001.
More Art is proud to present SMORGASBORD, a series of workshops, performances, and presentations led by the 2018-19 cohort of Engaging Artists fellows, including Ro Garrido, Nola Hanson, Zaq Landsberg, Manuel Molina Martagon, Julian Louis Phillips, Philip Santos Schaffer, and Candace Thompson.
SMORGASBORD will provide a sampling of the projects EA fellows have been incubating through the program for the past year, addressing a wide range of topics including: empathy through interactive performance; boxing as a pedagogical practice for trans youth; transformative-justice organizing; displacement in Bedford-Stuyvesant; food as a vehicle for conversation; urban foraging and the climate crisis; and biodegradable public sculptures commemorating the environmental disaster that is Newtown Creek.
ENGAGING ARTISTS (EA) is More Art’s Fellowship program for artists seeking to both develop and sustain their public art and socially-engaged practice. This one year Fellowship provides an infrastructure and laboratory for NYC-based emerging and underrepresented artists to gain a deeper understanding of the history of the field, incubate and present their work, collaborate with communities in shaping society, and build sustainable careers in the field of public art.
The CUE Art Foundation gallery is wheelchair accessible. There is an all-gender, ADA compliant, single stall bathroom in the gallery. The space is not scent-free, but we do request that visitors come low-scent. The closest wheelchair accessible MTA subway stations are Penn Station and Herald Square Station. If you have specific access questions or needs, please contact email@example.com or call 646.416.6940.
WORKSHOPS (SEPARATE RSVPs REQUIRED)
Ro Garrido, Podmapping discussion and workshop
2:30 – 3:30pm
*Limited Capacity. Separate RSVP required (see RSVP options here)
Ro Garrido will be facilitating an intimate space for reflection and discussion on creating systems of support and accountability. A small group of participants will take part in a workshop and discussion on pod mapping, a tool created by the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective. Together we will explore how pod mapping can be used to transform how we respond to harm and violence in our communities.
Please come to this workshop with a friend, colleague, partner, or family member. *Workshop capacity limited to 6 pairs (12 people). When registering, please register just one person in the pair.
Philip Santos Schaffer, SQUiD PLAY PLAY
3:45 – 5:15 pm
*Limited Capacity. Separate RSVP required (see RSVP options here)
SQUiD PLAY PLAY is a play for no actors about a 7th grade class dissection of a squid. This workshop on empathy takes the form of a board game under the guise of a piece of theatre masquerading as a science class. In each scene, audience participants take turns teaching lessons, handing out worksheets, leading discussions and more. This is a fun and easy way to dive deep with friends and strangers; asking “what does it mean to have a sense of self?” and “who can that sense of self love?”
SQUiD PLAY PLAY was originally created as part of MORE Art’s Emerging Artist Fellowship by Philip Santos Schaffer. Philip is a multi-disciplinary play maker creating interactive performances in unconventional places. Philip’s work deals with politics, pop culture, intimacy, and empathy through participation, humor, music, and more. www.philipsantosschaffer.com
6:00 – 9:00 pm
Candace Thompson, The C.U.R.B.
The C.U.R.B. is an interdisciplinary media and activism project that reconnects urbanites with our fragile (and oft-displaced) food web as we face climate crisis. Candace Thompson is documenting her process learning about/with/from the plants and animals that survive and thrive in her post-industrial neighborhood a half-mile from a Superfund site. What can we do to make our streets clean enough to eat off of in the future? Part multi-species storytelling, part citizen science experiment, the guests follow her findings via instagram (@the_c_u_r_b) and at four annual community ‘banquets’ foraged from the streets of Brooklyn and beyond.
For this event, Thompson will offer a brief presentation of her research, including a tasting of Gingko cheese, Curly Dock Crackers, and Mugwort ale foraged from the greater New York area. You will also get to assist in the process as she tries her hand at making acorn flour for the first time.
The C.U.R.B. is a mutli-platform documentary series with a playful, approachable, (non?)humanist look at how we can address the climate crisis through what we eat- and how we treat- the oft-overlooked nature all around us. It’s time to consider the more-than-human world as resilience role models, collaborating with them to create local, sustainable food webs for all. Perhaps there’s still time to eat one another away from the brink of extinction.
Manuel Molina Martagon, Acquired Taste
As Manuel Molina Martagon grew up in Mexico, he never noticed how his family dynamic was different from other families’ meal structure. The simple addition of an electric appliance—a hot plate to heat tortillas at his grandparent’s table—was enough to allow people to sit together and reduce the rounds of back-and-forth to bring warm tortillas, a task always done by the women in the family.
Acquired Taste is a performance lecture/cooking class that incorporates a hands-on experience in which cooking and food will be used as a vehicle for conversation regarding topics like authenticity, tradition, technology, access, identity, etc. It is developed as a moment to pause, eat, and think about the economic and emotional connection that exists in the food we eat: from who gets to eat and who gets to cook; to an observation of the different elements that make up a recipe. Acquired Taste can be an opportunity to connect in different ways to fellow participants and parallel stories.
Photo by Ada Jane McNulty.
Nola Hanson, Trans Boxing
Trans Boxing is an experimental, artist-run boxing club founded by Nola Hanson in 2017. For over two years the project has facilitated weekly boxing classes exclusively for trans and gender variant people in New York City. Through the Engaging Artists Fellowship, Nola’s research– largely done in collaboration with Hill Donnell, a member Trans Boxing– has investigated applications of the sport in performance, pedagogy, and restorative practices. On December 14th Nola and Hill will present their work to the public through a performative lecture, where they will demonstrate elements of their past work as well as introduce their most recent activation at The Door, a youth services organization in Lower Manhattan.
Julian Phillips, Notes on (Dis)placement
Julian Phillips will present on his project, Notes on (Dis)placement, a periodical investigating his and others’ relationship to a changing Bedford Stuyvesant. Through walks, interviews, and delving into family history and city records, Notes on (Dis)placement looks to create a secondary narrative around gentrification. By giving voice to the causes and effects of systematic displacement, Phillips aims to allow space for a conversation that does not reduce the issue to talking points and acknowledge the psychological and topographical trauma that gentrification causes.
Picture: This photograph is the home at 143 Lewis Avenue. This is the home that Phillips’s father bought with his grandmother in the 1970s. This was the house was Phillips first home and the house that his family eventually sold because of the proliferation of violence in the neighborhood. Upon returning to Bed-Stuy, Phillips found himself obsessively walking from his new home to this house in order to become acquainted with the neighborhood again.
Zaq Landsberg, Remediation
On view in the gallery on December 14 will be documentation and mycelium tiles from Zaq Landsberg’s Remediation project. Remediation is project is to create a biodegradable public sculpture made of mycelium, commemorating the environmental disaster that is Newtown Creek, working with local Greenpoint youth to create the elements of the piece. The result will be an ephemeral memorial, the work will offer a mirage of what public space and the future of the environment could be.
Decades of industrial pollution, have ravaged Newtown Creek and the soil beneath most of Greenpoint. This legacy of toxicity is the children of Greenpoint’s inheritance, and they were born into a situation they did not create, where the water in the Creek is so toxic they cannot safely touch it.
We held our first workshop in November at the 61 Franklin Street Garden. We challenged local kids to envision what they would like to do in Newtown Creek in the future. The kids sculpted scenes of sea life, watersports, fishing, swimming, etc, in bas-relief with clay. We cast these scenes into mycelium tiles, which will eventually adorn a larger structural framework of the piece. The cast mycelium tiles will be on view.
Mycelium are fibrous, rootlike, bonding elements of fungi. They can grow into molds of any shape to create a sturdy tough material. Unsealed, it will slowly biodegrade over a few months. There is a metaphorical aspect to the material. The use of this material acknowledges that no material lasts forever, and that attitudes, issues, demographics, neighborhoods will not last forever. Fungus also is an organism that can actively remediate contamination in soil and other polluted environments. There is an educational opportunity for participants and viewers to think about how we may deliberately use natural processes to heal the damage of our industrial past.
The project is a collaboration between Zaq Landsberg (sculptor, public art specialty) and Fran Agnone (Environmental Educator).