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getting to zero in dutch kills

public art project

As part of our Getting to Zero in Dutch Kills project, we issued a call for artist proposals in early 2019 to encourage artists living or working near the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek to develop public art projects that would help build public awareness of the impacts of CSO’s (polluted discharges from the City’s combined sewer system) in the creek, and green infrastructure solutions that can be used to help reduce the pollution and improve the environment.


Two public art projects, Cerulean Waters and Listening to Dutch Kills, launched on June 29th, 2019 as part of our Getting to Zero in Dutch Kills Community Action Plan. The two complimentary projects will help build public awareness of the Action Plan and help visualize the current conditions and the community’s vision of a healthier future for the Dutch Kills tributary. Scroll down for details about the projects. The images below are from the artists' research trips on the tributary and the June 29th event, the images will change as the projects progress. 

cerulean waters

Listening to dutch kills

Listening to Dutch Kills is an immersive audio walk that guides participants around the waters of the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek (in Long Island City, Queens) to investigate and experience the species and ecologies hidden in this urban industrial landscape.


Listeners will engage with this complex watershed through a series of creative sound pieces, prompts, and narrations by local artists and community stakeholders, encountering the body of water from the perspectives of the flora and fauna that thrive along its banks, and contemplating how these species are connected to the future of New York City as it faces the challenges of sea level rise and climate change.

The audio tour debuted on June 29th as part of the launch event for our Getting to Zero in Dutch Kills Community Action Plan.  The tour starts at LIC Roots Community Garden and ends at the Smiling Hogshead Ranch Community Garden where our Cerulean Waters project is installed. 


Two additional tours will be organized by the Getting to Zero in Dutch Kills project team in 2019: July 13th: City of Water Day and again in the Fall 2019 (exact date tbd).


The audio tour lives online here for people to download onto their phones and take the walk anytime they wish. PLEASE NOTE: By downloading the audio guide and going on the tour, you automatically agree to the terms on our liability waiver which can be found here. We recommend that you go on the tour on weekend days when there is less traffic in the area. 

Listening to Dutch Kills is a project by Chance Ecologies, curated and produced by artists Catherine Grau, Nathan Kensinger, and Sarah Nelson Wright, with participating artists including Nate Dorr, Edrex Fontanilla, Rachel Stevens, Moira Williams, and others.

Cerulean Waters is a textile/sound installation by Laura Kung and Johann Diedrick that highlights the combined sewage overflow (CSO) events in the Dutch Kills section of Newtown Creek and the environmental impact that they cause. Combined Sewer Overflow is a reflection of our archaic water treatment infrastructure and the need for green alternatives for stormwater collection to counteract the human-generated wastewater that is released.

With Cerulean Waters, the two artists unveil the current damaged conditions of the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek and re-imagine the future potential it holds as a gathering ground for the community to engage with the water’s healing powers.


For her textile sculpture, artist Laura Kung uses 

bio-design techniques to create a natural dye from bacteria in water samples drawn from the Dutch Kills tributary. The bacteria dyed yarn is made of natural fibers woven into textiles, which in turn is made by fossilizing the bacterial pigment onto fabric. This is not only a reflection of the present, but also an emulation of the potential beauty the presence of clean water could bring. The bacteria used in the project are rendered inert during a final UV process. 


Diedrick uses his underwater recordings of the Newtown Creek, combined with original music compositions, to create a unique soundscape formed from the aquatic environment of the creek. The sound installation proposes what sounds might have existed in the Newtown Creek and imagines what sounds that could have existed in the future. You can listen to the soundscape here on soundcloud. 

The Cerulean Waters installation will be on view July - September at Smiling Hogshead Ranch in Long Island City. 

The Cerulean Waters installation is co-sponsored by Green Shores NYC as part of their Bridging the Creek project and is made possible through a grant from the Hudson River Foundation.  Bridging the Creek is a community-driven project designed to connect those living and working on the Queens and Brooklyn sides of Newtown Creek with both the waterway and each other.

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