Stacy Levy is an internationally known artist who specializes in creating artful, site-specific interventions and engagements with water ecology. This past Saturday, she led an interactive family workshop in Greenpoint, where she and her volunteers mapped the historic Bushwick Inlet directly onto the hardscape using chalk paint: a mixture of chalk powder and water. Greenpointers caught up with Stacy to discuss her activism and the aquatic wonders of our local inlet.
Greenpointers: Do you live in Brooklyn?
Stacy Levy: I live out in the hinterlands of Pennsylvania on an 80-acre farm. I grew up in Philadelphia along an urban park.
How did you first hear about conversations around the Bushwick Inlet?
I am interested in the missing water of urban areas. The Bushwick Inlet is a residual water form that used to encompass a much larger area.
Arts and environmental activism create a wonderful intersection for your work. What sparked that for you?
I have always been intrigued by natural history: what did this place look like before European colonization and the engineering that changed the natural surface of this?
Given recent UN climate reports, does this feel like a particularly important time to be performing the work you’re passionate about?
I think that the “past” of water is now becoming the “future” of water in the city. Though we thought these various waterways were nicely tucked under our streets, climate disturbance creates rains that come with more frequency and amount of rainfall. With our engineering of streams in the city, we have crippled the capacity of our urban creeks. In this increased rain regime, we need the streams’ capacity for soaking in and flowing more than ever.
What do you hope participants got out of this recent project?
I love to know all the layers of natural history and cultural history at work below our feet, and I want to share this excitement and sense of place with others. Sensing the existence of the stream that flows below the street gives everyone a way to feel the uneasy relationship between humans and nature.
Do you have any other upcoming projects you’re excited about?
Yes I am currently working on a tidal project for the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.