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Who takes care of New York?

A new exhibition highlights environmental stewardship in NYC

A collaged image with several houses and tress around it. Courtesy of artist Julia Oldham

Just in time for Climate Week, the Queens Museum has unveiled a new exhibition that highlights environment stewardship efforts in NYC.

Through photography, maps, and art, “Who Takes Care of New York” tells the stories of New York City communities and their efforts to take care of their environments. Four artists featured in the exhibit, which is on view until September 29, drew inspiration from the Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project (STEW-MAP), a project by the USDA Forest Service that visualizes environmental conservation efforts in different cities.

One of them, “Undiscovered Cityby artist Julia Oldham, features digital images that illustrate the artist’s conversations with over 40 city stewards on their visions of NYC’s future, of which climate change is an unavoidably huge part. Another one, “The Forest Between: Street Trees and Stewardship in New York Cityby Matthew Jensen, celebrates the ways in which residents care for street trees and their surrounding spaces.

A light green page with photos and a smaller piece of green paper on top.
Whole Queens Catalog by artist Magali Duzant.
Courtesy of Magali Duzant
A tree stump with flowers planted in it.
A stump used as a planter in Queens, part of The Forest Between: Street Trees and Stewardship in New York City.
Matthew Jensen

Another piece, by Magali Duzant, titled “Whole Queens Catalog,was inspired by Stewart Brand’s 1960s Whole Earth Catalog, and gathers anecdotes, wisdom, and recipes from Queens stewardship groups.

“The show is about bringing together different perspectives to understand how specific groups take care of New York City,” Lindsay Campbell, research social scientist at the Forest Service, told Curbed. “It’s meant to be this sort of transdisciplinary, multiple perspective on how we can best see and understand work that goes on every day but it’s sometimes not so visible.”

The exhibit—organized by the USDA Forest Service’s NYC Urban Field Station, Pratt Institute’s Spatial Analysis and Visualization Initiative (SAVI), and curator Christina Freeman—will run along several events throughout the week, starting on Saturday, September 15, with The Picnic: Harvest of the STEW, a performance by artist Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The last event, happening on Saturday, September 28, will be a hands-on activity where New Yorkers can join the Parks Department stewardship team in caring for street trees in the Bronx, restoring wetlands in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and beautifying Fort Tryon Park.

“Hopefully people will come away from the show with a better understanding of the work that’s already happening all around us—in which they can take action as well,” Campbell said.

“Who Takes Care of New York” will be on view at the Queens Museum until September 29, 2019.

Queens Museum

Building, Queens, NY 11368 (718) 592-9700 Visit Website