Installation view: Mary Mattingly, Public Water: Watershed Core, 2021, sculpture, 144 x 144 x 120 inches. Prospect Park, New York, 2021. Courtesy +More Art.
Watershed Core, a 10ft tall geodesic dome, is designed as a structural ecosystem covered in native plants that filter water in a gravity-fed system that mimics the geologic features of the watershed: New York Times by Martha Schwendener, Brooklyn Rail by Julie Reiss, New York Times by Melissa Smith, Dezeen by Jane Englefield, Metropolis by Jane Levere.
Excerpt from Julie Reiss in the Brooklyn Rail:
In June 2020, Mary Mattingly and More Art launched A Year of Public Water, a collaboration that uses various platforms to inform its audience about the sources of New York’s water supply. Beginning with the premise that knowledge of the watershed’s history is a key to its sustainable future, the project’s goals include promoting stewardship of the water system that connects upstate to downstate and fostering greater cooperation between the communities that maintain it. 19 reservoirs and lakes feed the city’s drinking water system, and the water, while treated to make it safe to drink, is unfiltered. Strict standards have to be met to protect the water supply and avoid the costs of filtration, requiring cooperation between the city and the residents of the towns and farms along the watershed. The project, carried out by Mattingly and the staff of More Art, a non-profit organization that supports socially engaged public art projects, started with a website: http://public-water.com. The website relates the economic, political, social, and scientific background of New York’s water supply, stretching from geological time to the present. Now, site-specific components of the project have been installed in Prospect Park, addressing issues facing the park, the watershed, and, by extension, the entangled histories of human intervention into natural resources.
Mattingly’s larger art practice centers on ecological concerns and fosters a reciprocal relationship between humans and nature. Swale (2016–ongoing), for example, is an edible floating forest that makes fresh produce available for free in New York Harbor. Vanishing Point (2021) focuses on the evolution of plant life in the Thames Estuary over millions of years as the climate has changed. In 2020, as artist-in-residence at the Brooklyn Public Library, she created Core, a geodesic dome installed in the Central Library’s lobby. Core contained live tropical plants of the varieties found in fossil records of the New York area.
Watershed Core concludes A Year of Public Water
Photo: Manuel Molina Martagon.
A Year of Public Water, 2020. Digital Campaign sharing histories of NYC’s drinking watershed from deep time to today. Part of the Public Water project with +More Art and Prospect Park Alliance. Images courtesy of +More Art