Eco-Justice, Collaborative Poetics and Eco-Art at NYU

I was so honored to collaborate with Mark Read, Kathy Engels, and Pamela Jean Tinnen on the Ghostfishing: Eco-Justice Poetry and the Diasporic City project at NYU in September.

“Seen here across thirteen window vitrines are site-specific artworks: eleven poems and excerpts of poems that inspired their accompanying installations. Through engagement with the recently released book Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology, plants and images were selected and are being tended to as an artistic response to the words of these generous and thoughtful poets. The resulting installations reflect the living conviction that the making of art, community and justice involves constant interaction, respect for, and dance with the natural world in the broadest sense. They were created to breathe in these windows in conversation with each other and each of you. They are defined by a sense of connectedness and possibility, while reflecting the stark realities of our times.

Many of the plants you see are from the island of Puerto Rico. This choice reflects a recognition of the legacy of environmental and climate INjustice that has been borne both by the people of that island and the diasporic Puerto Rican community here in New York City, which is itself woven deeply into the NYU community. These communities have been economically and environmentally ravaged in recent years. The inestimable pain, trauma, and death that came in the wakes of hurricanes Sandy and Maria resulted as much from relentless oppression based on race, class and colonization as it did from the storms themselves.

It is an honor to partner with environmental justice and disaster solidarity groups including LES Ready, Why Not Care?, New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS), and Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), and to work with the brave student activists of NYU Divest and Decarbonize NYU. Please see the community bulletin board on West 3rd Street for more details on the essential work of these groups.

The call for eco-justice is inseparable from the call for racial and economic justice. As you view these installations, we invite you to consider the tenderness and care these plants need to exist in our shared world. How might we bring this same level of care to our interactions with one another? Who collaborates in the transformation of our world?

How do we hold grief and terror, individually and collectively, and work to transform the roots of such destruction while envisioning and creating the bloom of the possible?”

Exhibition in artistic conversation with Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology edited by Melissa Tuckey.

Art Installations by Mark Read, Adjunct Professor of Art, Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU, in collaboration with Margaretha Haughwout

Exhibition Design by Pamela Jean Tinnen, Lead Curator, Kimmel Windows

Coordinated by Kathy Engel, Chair and Associate Arts Professor, Department of Art & Public Policy, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, with Melissa Tuckey editor of Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology.

Support for this project has come from the Tisch School of the Arts Institute of Performing Arts, The Tisch Initiative for Creative Research, and the Global Research Initiatives of the Office of the Provost, NYU.