Lillian Ball: WATERWASH Welcomes

Cotten_JBC2645group081711Lillian Ball has restored a number of wetlands. One of these is WATERWASH® ABC (2010 – 2014, ongoing) on the Bronx River, so named by Ball because it is next to the  ABC carpet warehouse  outlet. The flotsam that greeted her and her crew at the start of their work, along with more debris along the shore, were reminders of what had become of the Bronx in decades past. Over more than two years Ball, with her crew of engineers and scientists, restored the wetlands, and teens from the not-for-profit Rocking the Boat worked with her to plant hundreds of native species, long missing from the river. The cleansing of the river with the rebuilding of the destroyed wetland is both a metaphor and a living example of the Bronx rising again. At the same time, the wetlands are crucial to allow the river to handle heavy rains and flooding as climate change lays more damage on New York City.

For Ball, inClimate offered an opportunity to present WATERWASH ABC to diverse communities with WATERWASH Welcomes. First and foremost, she wanted Bronxites of all ages to experience it. Some of them were old enough to have vivid memories of the river as a hellish sewer strewn with rusting cars, bottles, needles and syringes, oil barrels and bodies—and not just of cats and dogs, while much younger Bronxites, who had only heard of this once notorious and ugly river, could now see and hear about how some of it was transformed through Ball’s work. WATERWASH Welcomes also brought residents from other boroughs who rarely or never ventured to the Bronx, showing them what health and beauty had been restored to the water and its shores. Then there were the academics: the professors and their students of botany, ecology, resiliency and climate change, there to experience a complex living example of reestablishing nature. Others were just curious about how an artist could spearhead a huge project to recreate a wetland with flora and fauna, help revitalize a river, and make it navigable once more.

Please see Completed Events for stills, video and short description.

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Curator Regina Cornwell conceived and is organizing inClimate under the auspices of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.