2021 ongoing, Soil Profiles: Hudson

Soil Profiles  is a project initiated by Urban Soils Institute and artist Margaret Boozer. The idea is to facilitate collaboration of artists, soil scientists, historians, community gardeners, students, theorists, municipal leaders, landscape architects, teachers, engineers, activists and anyone who wants to help tell the story of their particular soils.

With the support of Troy, NY residents Steve  and Andrea Hartman, we are building an inaugural project and prototype, starting with Hudson River clays in Troy.

Ultimately, I will make a commissioned artwork for the Hartman residence, using clay from Uncle Sam’s brickyard. (Uncle Sam was a real person, he lived in Troy, and he owned a brickard!) Along the way, lots of folks are helping out… We’ve asked soil scientists, RPI engineers, the City of Troy and a local historian to help us dig and learn about that clay. We’ll share that information (and the clay!) with school kids, local potters and anyone else there who is interested.

The idea is to have fun learning about soils and place, using the visual appeal of art and physical contact with materials to engender personal connections with and stewardship of our soils and land. Troy artist and educator Claire Sherwood, and Broken Mold Troy artists Robilee McIntyre and Bianca Dupuis are already on board with their own auxiliary projects, as is glaze wizard Ryan Rahkshan. (Stay tuned for an exhibition at the Art Center of the Capital Region in fall 2024!)

We’re just at the beginning, and working on an online interface that will be clearer visual storytelling. What you see here is a placeholder for our Troy information as the project evolves. We would also love to support other editions of the project (yours?)

If you’d like help digging into your own soil’s science, art and history, send an email to Margaret Boozer or upload your questions from the USI website

Artist's notes

For the finished commission I created as part of this larger project, see thumbnail in WORK titled,

Uncle Sam and the Brickyard, 2022
fired Sam Wilson brickyard clay, steel, plexiglas
63″ x 35″ x 4″