2019- ongoing, Urban Soils Room at Governors Island

Thank you to Mary Mattingly and Swale House for the opportunity to expand Correlation Drawing/Drawing Correlations.  The first iteration of this project was a collaboration with Dr. Richard Shaw of NRCS-USDA, showcasing soil samples collected by his agency in the 10 year New York City Reconnaissance Soil Survey, and was exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Design in 2012.

In this iteration, I got to collaborate again with Shaw, as well as with Tatiana Morin and others from Urban Soils Institute, to really use the soils as a visual hook to talk about urban soils.  We re-worked the map to show where these particular soil samples are from. We wrote text to explain why the Reconnaissance Soil Survey was done in the first place, why urban soil study is important and how the public can benefit from the information.

The mission of the NRCS is to “help people help the land”. We hope this room will be a tool toward that end.

The Urban Soils Room will exist for 3 years as a teaching tool and a space for programming and discussions. It adjoins a functioning Soil Lab, run by Urban Soils Institute, and both reside within the context of Swale House, which focuses on food justice and environmental concerns of food systems.

more on Swale, Swale’s Facebook Page
more on Governors Island
more on Urban Soils Institute

official Soil Reconnaissance Survey data + map can be found at this link:  SoilWeb: An Online Soil Survey Browser | California Soil Resource Lab (ucdavis.edu)

Artist's notes

The Art Extension Service (AES) is a group of artists and creative sorts who love soils and love working with scientists as part of our professional practice. Recognizing the power of art to make abstract ideas visible and accessible, we partner with the Urban Soils Institute (USI) to design projects and structures that:

  • Educate the general public about the importance of urban soil
  • Engender stewardship of our soil and ecology
  • Create an interactive community of scientists, artists, and citizens
  • Help make soils education fun and accessible

Project: Soils is an initiative of the AES, designed to make potential artist and scientist collaborators visible to each other, and to help connect proposed projects with potential sites and funders.

Founding members of AES are Margaret Boozer, J.J. McCracken, Raina Martens, Claire Huschle, Siobhan Rigg, Scott Larson, and Peter Sprung.  It’s designed to be a variable collective and admit as many members as want to work on projects!