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Public Art Projects for Getting to Zero in Dutch Kills Community Action Plan!

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

We are getting excited about the next phase of the Getting to Zero in Dutch Kills Community Action Plan and our launch event on June 29th in Long Island City!

Two groups of artists are working on a set of public art projects that will debut on June 29th when community stakeholders come together to discuss and finalize the Getting to Zero in Dutch Kills Community Action Plan at Smiling Hogshead Ranch.

The two projects, Cerulean Waters and Listening to Dutch Kills, reflect on the current, past, and future state of the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. Special thanks to LIC Roots for their support of the Listening to Dutch Kills walking tour and to Smiling Hogshead Ranch for providing space in their gardens for the Cerulean Waters Installation!

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 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 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. By fossilizing the bacterial pigment onto fabric – a reflection of the present – and bacteria dyed yarn of natural fibers woven into textiles that emulate the potential beauty the presence of clean water could bring.

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.

Cerulean Waters will be on view at Smiling Hogshead Ranch in Long Island City July -September 2019 ( during open hours for the Ranch: dawn to dusk). 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.

Listening to Dutch Kills is an immersive audio walk that guides participants around the waters of the Dutch Kills 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 Listening to Dutch Kills tour will launch on June 29th at the Getting to Zero in Dutch Kills Community Action Plan launch event and will be offered again on July 13th - City of Water Day, and a future date in the Fall of 2019. The audio tour and map will live on line and be available for download on the SWIM and Chance Ecologies websites in the near future.

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.

Many thanks to the artists for their amazing work to help us build public awareness of the community's vision for revitalizing the natural systems in and around the Dutch Kills tributary so that it can transition into an accessible recreational and educational asset. To learn more about the public art projects click here.

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