site-specific work   >   Drifts of the Gowanus

2016; colored pencil, ink, gouache, and wax pastel on paper; approx. 100 x 148 x 40 inches (254 x 375.92 x 101.6 cm)

In June 2016, I paddled a canoe on the Gowanus canal (a Superfund site in Brooklyn), and I was struck most by the remnants of industry and evidence of the persistence of nature. Although the Superfund clean-up start date has been delayed for several more years, the presence of plants (and attendant wildlife) on the shores of the Gowanus are signs that forces of nature reliably intrude on and transform the built environment wherever they can.

This site-specific drawing installation covered the walls of an alcove in the gallery at Trestle Projects, a nonprofit art organization in the Gowanus neighborhood. It comprised a collage of some images and impressions from the canoe journey: piles of concrete chunks that were parts of larger structures and indicated former uses, the residue of decaying metal and wood elements within and among these concrete forms, and the hardy plant life that insistently pushes into any feasible gaps, flourishing despite the toxic conditions. The left wall featured a drawn transcription of the corrosion patterns on the corrugated-steel walls that line much of the canal.

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Drifts of the Gowanus (overall view, toward right)

Drifts of the Gowanus (overall view, centered)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: left and center walls)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: center wall)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: center and right walls)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: right wall, 5)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: right wall, 4)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: right wall, 6)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: right wall, 7)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: right wall, 2)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: right wall, 3)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: right wall, 1)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: left wall, 1)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: left wall, 2)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: left wall, 3)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: left wall, 4)

Drifts of the Gowanus (detail: left wall, 5)