Ziemia is an art installation that sits in a garden filled with native plants in Msgr. McGolrick Park, Brooklyn. Translated from Polish, Ziemia means ‘Earth” ~ and the beautiful story behind its creation is told below.
Ziemia was created by the artist Martynka Wawrzyniak, who arrived in the U.S. from Poland some thirty years ago. Living in her multi-cultural Greenpoint neighborhood was the inspiration for the concept ~ inviting the community to donate soil meaningful to their everyday lives. It could be from their backyard, or could be from the home of their birth – all collected to create this monument to the community. Over 150 contributors participated, coming from schools, churches, senior centers and cultural groups. In addition, they shared their stories of migration, which have been archived.
The soil contributions come from not just Poland, but places as far away as Ukraine, Germany, France, Japan, Serbia, Nepal, the United Kingdom, Ecuador, Mexico and Nambia. They were combined with a mixture of clay excavated in their community of Greenpoint.
The installation, Ziemia: Our Stories Are Written in Soil, reflects on Greenpoint’s demographic transformation, with gentrification pushing many longtime residents out. It is a symbol responding to the need for “collective reflection” on displacement in our communities.
Ziemia was unveiled on June 9, 2018 in McGolrick Park. In attendance ~ Congresswoman Maloney, Assemblyman Lentol, Council Member Levin, Jennifer Lantzas of NYC Parks, Anna Domanska, Director of the Polish Cultural Institute, neighborhood historian, Geoff Cobb, the artist, Martynka Wawrzyniak and Greenpoint residents.
In May, 2018, a short film documenting Wawrzyniak’s journey to collect soil for the Ziemia orb on behalf of Polish immigrants living in Greenpoint was featured at the Greenpoint Film Festival.
The installation, Ziemia: Our Stories Are Written in Soil Msgr. McGolrick Park will be on view to June 8, 2019 at in Brooklyn. It is presented by the Polish Cultural Institute and the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn.