Since the Artist in Residence program’s inception in 2017, artists have yielded an array of unique installations that reflect the cultural, ecological and built landscape. These include Mary Mattingly’s Swale, a floating food forest built atop a barge to advocate for healthy food and gardening, and Katie Holten’s New York City Tree Alphabet, which assigned drawings of local tree species to letters of the alphabet to generate public engagement with nature and conservation. This year, the residency has expanded to support artists across the United States and internationally, with plans to continue expanding in the coming years.
“The Artist Residency is representative of the approach to ‘knowledge co-production’ emblematic of the USDA Forest Service’s Urban Field Station Network. Art is a form of inquiry, and encounters between science and art give us the chance to rediscover elements of both, yielding results that neither art nor science could create on its own. These advances contribute to the knowledge and practice required to develop more just, thriving, and sustainable communities,” says Sarah Hines, USDA Forest Service Network Coordinator.
Four artists have been selected to participate in the Urban Field Station’s Artist in Residence Program, now in its fifth year. The artists will collaborate with research, public outreach, and natural resource management specialists at NYC Parks, the USDA Forest Service, and the State of Hawaii with teams in New York City, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. The yearlong residency, hosted virtually this year out of the Urban Field Station in Fort Totten Park, brings perspectives from the arts and humanities to urban land management, social and ecological research, and community stewardship.
The four artists were selected by arts professionals and staff from NYC Parks, the USDA Forest Service, and The Nature of Cities (TNOC) for their proposals that will examine the overlap of art, urban ecology, and community-based design:
Cecile Chong will research the connection between New York City parks and their surrounding immigrant communities. Chong is an Ecuador-born, New York-based multimedia artist whose work in painting, sculpture and installation layers materials, identities and histories. Her work addresses ideas of cultural interaction and interpretation, as well as the commonalities humans share both in our relationship to nature and to each other.
Sharon Heitzenroder will document environmental changes in Honolulu over the past 50-100 years, specifically the loss of green space. Heitzenroder is a feminist, artist, activist, and educator. Much of her work deals with issues related to mental health, gender, and disparities perpetuated by systems of power.
Nikki Lindt will explore above ground and underground sound in New York City, focusing on the sound gradient of underground sounds in an urban setting all the way through to a (city) forest. Born in the Netherlands, Lindt is a NYC-based artist working primarily in the mediums of painting, video and sound. She works collaboratively with scientists, philosophers and sociologists to examine climate change at the intersection of art, science and culture.
Kilia Llano will explore “Migration” through two murals in the city of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Llano is a multimedia artist born in Santo Domingo who currently works in painting, urban art (murals), drawing, installations and digital art. Her work is based in identity, how we as a culture address nature and how our surroundings are related to who we are.
“NYC Parks is happy to partner with the USDA Forest Service and The Nature of Cities to support these talented artists through the Urban Field Station,” said NYC Parks Senior Public Art Coordinator Elizabeth Masella. “Since its inception, the program has provided an innovative space for artists to explore the cross-sections of art, science, and the urban environment. We look forward to seeing the contributions of this year’s international cohort as they engage with the dynamics between nature and communities.”
“The Nature of Cities was built to explore what we can learn at the fizzy boundaries where different ways of knowing and modes of action meet. If you want to learn something new, something unexpected, it makes sense to put artists together with scientists, designers, planners, and activists”, says David Maddox, Executive Director and Publisher of The Nature of Cities.
The New York City Urban Field Station (http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/nyc) is a unique scientific collaboration between the NYC Parks, the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, and the non-profit the Natural Areas Conservancy. First launched in 2006, the Urban Field Station provides a location for this long-term research partnership promoting applied science on urban ecology, conservation, stewardship, and ecological literacy to support ecosystem management and human well-being. The facility is designed as a shared office and lab where city and federal scientists work hand-in-hand to address critical land management questions relevant to New York City and other cities across the country.