Archive

Phillip Lopate describes the shape of Manhattan Island as‘a luxury liner, permanently docked, going nowhere’. This feeling of being tethered to the land, unable to get to sea, was a feature of New York life for much of the twentieth century. New York was an island without a coast. The West Side piers that once welcomed the Lusitania spent most of the twentieth century crumbling or behind barbed wire, while the East Side’s coves and points were cut off from pedestrians by six lanes of the Robert Moses-designed Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive. It wasn’t much easier to reach the shores of Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, either: with a few exceptions, they were largely reserved for municipal or industrial use, and easiest to see from the Staten Island Ferry (en route to the borough with the most beaches). Now, slowly, the city is reclaiming its shoreline, with some spectacular results.

Waterhouse Works Series (Puddle #1) by Sto Len and Maggie Haslam

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Sto Len and Maggie Haslam were in residence on Governors Island from July 23-August 5, 2018.


Dimensions: 11" x 14"
Materials: oil paint, debris, buttermilk channel water, watercolor, on paper

Artist Statement, Sto Len: When I first arrived to the island, I began walking the perimeter in an attempt to be as close to the water as possible. I collected things I found along the way: sticks, leaves, fish bones, rocks, sea shells, and a bucket of water from the Buttermilk Channel. I brought all of this back to the house and filled my inflatable swimming pool with the water, which would be my canvas for the duration of the residency. My daily art practice is a kind of meditational printmaking on the surface of water. I paint with oil and enamel floating on the water, along with other natural debris that creates a colorful stew. Patterns emerge over time, and then I lay paper down to capture the moment with a monoprint. I noticed my studio neighbor, Maggie Haslam, was using water on paper too. She formed puddles on her works and was allowing time to have its way, eventually drying into colorful organic forms. She saw the similarities in my work, too, and we began trading paper back and forth, printing and puddling on them until the pieces seemed finished. We continue to collaborate following our residency, trading work through the mail.


Artist Statement, Maggie Haslam: While working on Governors Island, I used collected water from the river and from rain water in my paintings. I wanted to give the water a voice, and so I allowed it to be a tool, limiting my use of a paint brush. Instead, I used methods of pouring and dripping, allowing the paint to settle onto the paper to create an image. Sto worked in the studio next to mine, and we realized right away that we both used water's natural flowing characteristics as a primary method to create imagery with our paint. The outcome of each of our processes is a moment of the water's movement that is captured on paper.


Sto Len: My current body of work transforms the traditional printmaking art of Suminagashi (floating ink) into an experimental collaboration with nature and a site of discourse on environmentalism and art activism. Working en plein air (often from a boat), I use my own marbling-like process to print directly off of the surface of urban waterways with paper. The end results are ghostly imprints that contain both the natural and anthropogenic residue of the site’s history. During these urban explorations, I document my journeys with photographs, video, collections and field recordings that give visibility to a city’s unseen and neglected watershed areas. These trips have also recently include memory walks open to the public, site-specific interventions, impromptu bbqs, water rituals, and solar-powered noise concerts.

Recent work in New York, Rhode Island, Colombia, and Vietnam has enabled my studio to be as large as a river and a practice that is becoming increasingly nomadic and global. In between travels, I maintain an ongoing studio practice using controlled bodies of water in inflatable swimming pools with combinations of oil paint, dirt, spray paint, and extended periods of time, to create colorful, patterned compositions on paper, maps, found materials, and wood that celebrate the materiality of water and the immateriality of memory.


Maggie Haslam (born 1988) grew up in Washington D.C. and received her BFA in studio art from BYU in 2013. After graduation, Maggie moved to New York City, and continued her art education at Pratt Institute, receiving her MFA in painting in 2016.

Maggie primarily works in water based paints on paper. She designs situations where she relinquishes total control over the medium, allowing the flowing characteristics of the paint and water to act naturally on paper. The end result is often simply the process caught in the act.

Since 2017, Maggie has collaborated with a fellow artist in a residency program located in Beginning with Children Charter School in Brooklyn, New York. They have worked together with the help of the middle school students on a project relating to immigration and displacement. In the summer of 2018, Maggie received a residency on Governor’s Island, New York with Underwater New York/Works On Water where she used only collected and recycled water to make art with. Maggie has been teaching children in Upper Manhattan/Westchester with Scribble Art Workshop since 2017.

Maggie lives and works in Manhattan, New York. maggiehaslam.com

Synthetic Tides by Tessa Grundon

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island residency. Tessa Grundon was in residence on Governors Island in 2018.


Artist Statement: The walls of my September studio seep the residue of passing storms and rising tides, and perhaps even now, the damp evidence of Hurricane Sandy. The peeling paint already map-like in its distribution leaves forms of flooded landscapes and archipelagosislands of plaster, primer, lead, and latex. Holding my breath behind my mask, I excavate further, causing new erosions. Seas rise up and swallow land masses as more paint loses its hold and falls to the floor revealing new coastlines in old layers, strata of decades not millennia. New rivers course along old cracks, fracturing in familiar branching patterns. On another wall, fissures become tributaries, waterborne diseases growing out of the rising and polluted tidesdrinking water delivering old threats to new places; countries at war for this increasingly scarce commodity. I push the large pile of unsound scrapings into a corner, a small mountain of evidence that what we throw away will always be here.

Outside, cut off from the shore by a chain-link fence, I photograph the debris in situ. Garbage from across the globe that has passed unimpeded through time zones, borders, and security checks is caught now in the rocks of the reconstructed coastline of this Paggank, this Noten Eylandt. Stranded are ship ropes, the soles of shoes, plastic fencing, and fishing lines; a “No Crossing” barrier and a mass of assorted styrofoam; door panels, a still-rolled and broken sail, a five-gallon bucket and plastic sheeting; liquor bottles, water bottles, mini-bar bottles, and soda bottles; a giant, stuffed and sodden, once-white carnival bear; a car bumper, the sheafing remains of a cardboard box that once held Slow & Low rye whiskey 84 proof; wave-churned, smooth-polished tree limbs; beams from broken buildings jutting with rusty nails; fishing nets and landscape matting; a golf ball, footballs, soccer balls, soft balls, and a child’s nubby, plastic, bouncy ball that used to light up; furniture parts; free-flying, green plastic pallet strapping; three helium balloonsone bright pink; assorted seaweeds, and a walnut worn smooth by its journey back to this Nut Island. I find a way to reach past the high fence and grab some pieces to work with and haul my stash back to my light-filled, damp-filled, paint-shedding studio accompanied by a chorus of kinglets and helicopters.  

Working with images of the seaweed and materials from the rocky strand-line, I experiment with photographic mono-prints. I let the inks flow and bleed across their natural borderlines, breaking through the surface tension, abstracting the original image almost beyond recognition. I notice changes in the viscosity of the ink as the humidity changes from day to day. I make collections of found objects and study the seaweeds I have foundmainly Fucus vesiculosus (Bladderwrack) and Ulva (Sea lettuce) that thrive in the surrounding waters of New York Harbor. The vibrant green Ulva flourishes in nitrogen-rich, polluted watersa signifier, the canary in the coalmine. Bladderwrack has many names, including rockweed, black tang, cut weed, sea oak and dyers fucus. I copy and cut its dendritic forms from oil-sleek black, plastic garbage bags and suspend them together in water. They sway entwined, almost indistinguishable as one leaches pollutants and the other absorbs, one releasing, the other containing.

With grateful thanks to Mauricio Gonzalez, head of Marine Biology and Science Research at New York Harbor School and his 11th grade class, for all their help and instruction collecting and analyzing harbor mud and seaweed. 


Find more about Tessa Grundon at tessagrundon.com.

mool, soom (water, breath) by Jianna Jihyun Park

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Jianna Jihyun Park was in residence on Governors Island from September 4-30, 2018.


1

wanted to reach the ocean bottom
and fall asleep there, i knew
of the blue caress
shredded sunlight
undercurrent lullaby.
it wasn’t a wish for an end
just a wish for something bluer.
sleepless children dragged
their feet from one stone
to another as the mermaids
tried to snatch them with
refined reef, dreamless sleep,
sheep counting bubbles
coming out of a girl’s gaping mouth.
close. open. no words, no teeth, hollow
cave of semi-pondered abandon.
deep down a whale crooned
open. close. visions undulate, blur—
when i became water
i knew of the coolness of her skin,
endless bed made of sand
where bodies lay
as if sleeping
as if dreaming
dreams leaking
sleepless sea 

sea urchin gently poked into my finger
as I turned the stone and reach for the day’s catch.
“too small,” said the haenyeo who threw it
back to the sea.
on the news, a Chinese lady was preparing dinner
when a crawfish whisker poked her finger—
she died the next day of bacterial infection.
“what about dinner?” a child asks.
the diver who sent the baby urchin back
to the sea says it’s too hot, one can’t dine,
i mean dive, with the wetsuit on.
white reefs can’t tell the living and the dead
while abalones hide deeper into abyss.
on the news, the dinner table is empty
& so is the ocean.


Materials Digital C-print, clear label film

Artist Statement: How does a body endure grief and guilt at the twilight of neoliberalism that has often overlooked the values such as empathy, community, and sustainability? How is the role of haenyeo (female free divers) who dive into the cold water to collect memories of the ocean similar to that of an artist who seeks to retrieve memories of lost bodies? Combined with the images captured near the island, the texts examine the poetics of grief, loss and breath, and imagine a human ecology not subsumed by the economy of mass production and hyperproductivity.


Find more about Jianna Jihyun Park at jiannadawn.wordpress.com.

Untitled, Clam/Lens by Alex Branch and Amina Cain

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Alex Branch was in residence on Governors Island from October 15-31, 2018.


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And if I had lived differently, in a different part of the ocean? If I had lived in a different ocean altogether, would I too be different? If I was burrowing in warm water at the base of a coral reef instead of in cold water burrowing only into sand. I would miss the snow and ice that turns the ocean colder. I too like seasons, though you might not think it of me. It’s part of what makes me feel alive. I don’t need to go to exotic places, but I do need change. It’s the way I understand time, and even if it wounds me, I respect it a great deal. I see myself among other clams. We look so similar, yet we’re so various inside. One of us enjoys the full moon, another, eels. You wouldn’t think of a clam liking an eel, but why shouldn’t we be excited by the other beings in the ocean? We’re not alone here; we know that well. Yet, in a way we are. Sometimes I feel very lonesome even when others are around me. 


Dimensions: 4.5" x 3"
Materials: Clam, lens, internal written piece by Amina Cain

Artist Statement: For my residency on Governor's Island I planned to work on building models of the boat I'll be making in St. Louis this winter but I couldn't stop working with clams. I had found a clam shell on a trip to Dead Horse Bay earlier in the summer and kept wondering if I could somehow make that clam into a book. While I was on the island I did many experiments with the clam form. This piece was a collaborative between me and the LA based writer Amina Cain who wrote this piece especially for the inside of this clamshell.


Find more about Alex Branch at alexbranch.com.

Aquapolis 2100 by /rive collective

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. /rive collective was in residence on Governors Island in 2018.


Aquapolis 2100  [6 min, HD video]
2019
/rive Collective [ Laura Chipley, Samara Smith, A.E. Souzis]

Aquapolis 2100 is a collaborative project by the art collective /rive exploring New York City's rising sea levels, which could rise up to as much as 6 feet higher by 2100. Each weekend of the WOW/UNY residency in summer 2018, /rive invited Governors Island visitors to draw what they imagine New York might look like in 2100 and sketch up their ideas—both practical and fantastical—about what they could do to deal with this crisis. This video piece features animations of these drawings set in the backdrop of an increasingly watery New York.


/rive is a Brooklyn-based artist collective focused on site-specific, locative projects that meet at the intersection of psychogeography, locative media and documentary narrative. Most projects are set in, and explore, urban public spaces. Inspired by social practice, /rive embraces collaborative and participatory methodologies, blurring the boundaries between maker, subject and audience. Members Laura Grace Chipley, Samara Smith and A.E. Souzis have exhibited at the Queens Museum, Hammer Museum, Bronx Museum, New York Hall of Science, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Art in Odd Places and beyond.
http://rivecollective.org/
http://lauragracechipley.com/
http://samarasmith.com/
http://www.aesouzis.com/

Next Time on Earth by Rejin Leys

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Rejin Leys was in residence on Governors Island from May 21-June 24, 2018.


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Dinmensions: variable
Materials: Pencil, collage, relief prints and gouache on handmade paper, tracing paper and printed

Artist Statement: Next Time on Earth is a speculative drawing project, created during my residency on Governors Island, that imagines a possible future where the sea has covered the land.


Rejin Leys is a mixed media artist and paper maker based in New York, whose work has been exhibited at such venues as Centro Cultural de España, Santo Domingo, DR; Kentler International Drawing Space, NY; Queens Museum, NY; and Les Ateliers J.R. Jerome, PaP, Haiti. Her work is in the collections of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Yale University, and Rutgers University Caribbean Studies Department, and she is a recipient of a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Clam Book by Alex Branch

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Alex Branch was in residence on Governors Island from October 15-31, 2018.


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Dimensions: 4.5" x 3"
Materials: Clam shell, leather, paper and thread

Artist Statement: For my residency on Governor's Island I planned to work on building models of the boat I'll be making in St. Louis this winter but I couldn't stop working with clams. I had found a clam shell on a trip to Dead Horse Bay earlier in the summer and kept wondering if I could somehow make that clam into a book. While I was on the island I did many experiments with the clam form.


Find more about Alex Branch at alexbranch.com.

Floating Garden by Lily Consuela Saporta-Tagiuri

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Lily Consuela Saporta-Tagiuri was in residence on Governors Island from August 20-September 16, 2018.

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Materials: Plants, soil, water proofing fabric, canvas, rope, rubber tube

Artist Statement: Floating Garden is a garden plot designed to withstand flood and allow for food security. It is an open source design that is simple and inexpensive to construct. 


Lily Consuela Saporta-Tagiuri is an industrial designer and creative director based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work addresses emerging climates and conditions of the contemporary metropolis through design interventions. Using video, food, material exploration, products, and installation, she aims to draw attention to underlying social, political, and environmental systems in our modern cities and to explore alternatives.

Eating Water by Lily Consuela Saporta-Tagiuri with Ayasha Guerin

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Lily Consuela Saporta-Tagiuri was in residence on Governors Island from August 20-September 16, 2018. Ayasha Guerin was in residence on Governors Island from October 15-31, 2018.


Duration: One Month/ongoing
Materials: Food, ocean, and rain water

Artist Statement:
Lily Consuela Saporta-Tagiuri:
Eating Water is an exploration of how to modify our lifestyles to live in the environments that are emerging as a result of climate change. Using food as a tool to discuss sea-level rise, flood, and drought, the plate becomes an intimate frame through which to serve new recipes and strategies for survival. Made while in residence on Governors Island, this collection includes plates made of ocean and rain water, a pantry of water from around the world, a floating vegetable and herb garden, and 15 recipes using ingredients that are flood-tolerant, drought resistant, or salt-water tolerant. Eating Water is an ongoing project culminating in a series of feasts.

Ayasha Guerin, Photographer: Lily Tagiuri’s Eating Water invited guests to “a tasting and discussion of emerging landscapes and the future of food.” To attend, we would have to catch the ferry from the Brooklyn or Lower Manhattan waterfronts, on a Sunday in late August, to Governors Island. The ferries - which only ran once an hour-  departed strictly on time. As a fellow Works on Water resident, I knew the stress of dashing to the pier after a late start or poor train service. It can be an emotional commute to the island, between the pressure of making the ferry on time and the beautiful, moving view of the densely built Metropolis from the open sea. For a city of islanders, our harbor mobility is more limited than many of us water-artists desire.

That Sunday, a crew of fifteen hungry navigators arrived to experience the waterfront-spread. On the Brooklyn-facing side of the island, by the designated grilling fields on Barry Road, the picnic looked out onto the industrial yards of Red Hook. But this would be no barbecue. Guests mingled around a table where plate after plate slowly arrived, a parade of fifteen carefully arranged dishes from the back steps of Nolan Park 5B, the Works on Water residency house. Nearby, families looked on curiously from picnic tables hosting feasts of their own.

LT explained, we would be eating ingredients that can withstand extreme climates, from floods to droughts. Her richly layered food scene resembled a strange landscape of wet and dry patches where fungi, plants, nuts, spilled over a bed of powdery, golden sand, made from blended cookies (vegan, like everything else strewn across a dark blue tarp.) Soon, excited human limbs became part of the strange ecology, as we reached, dipped, and stabbed at each delicious dish. Cacti was used as a platter to serve prickly-pear jellies, while other food was plated on ceramics that LT had cast during her residency from rain- and harbor- water. The latter plates hid under large rice cakes that propped seaweed-wrapped taro balls.

As we tasted, LT told us facts about the crops that grow best in flood regions: rice, mushrooms, lotus, and taro. And about those which do particularly well by saltwater: palm, coconut and seaweeds. We discussed local and the foreign landscapes that inspired the meal. We toasted with Mezcal-aloe cocktails as ice melted onto the benches in the sweltering heat. The Mezcal, kept cool in a special block cast to hold its shape, encouraged a conversation about the journey that the agave-spirit, produced in small farm in Mexico, made to reach New York. After the meal, we took a walk, errantly exploring miles of newly developed park space on the island’s landfill. We pondered the future of the once-water site. At the center of the New York harbor, facing not only development pressures, but the threat of sea level rise and reclamation by powerful storm surges in the coming decades, who will occupy this island?


Lily Consuela Saporta Tagiuri is an industrial designer and creative director based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work addresses emerging climates and conditions of the contemporary metropolis through design interventions. Using video, food, material exploration, products, and installation, she aims to draw attention to underlying social, political, and environmental systems in our modern cities and to explore alternatives.

Ayasha Guerin is an artist and scholar based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work explores themes of urban ecology, community and security in public and private space. She is a PhD candidate in NYU's American Studies department, where her research engages questions about the entanglements of race, nature and value. Her dissertation explores the socio-ecological histories and resiliencies of waterfront communities in Lower Manhattan. She is currently a Fellow of Urban Practice at The Urban Democracy Lab, formerly a Graduate Fellow at NYU's Center for the Humanities, and before, the Andrew W. Mellon Pre-doctoral Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York. 

Waste Side Story by Robin Michals and Lynn Neuman

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Lynn Neuman was in residence on Governors Island from June 25-July 8, 2015. Robin Michals was the photographer in residence on Governors Island.


Artist Statement, Waste Side Story: The goal of Waste Side Story is to place a positive value on creative reuse and repurposing of materials, encouraging and supporting a change in the cultural ethos towards garbage, and to engage with waste as a process, a system of use, a point of interconnection and set of relationships. The project’s result is a series of commanding, beautiful photographs that reposition the concept of consumption and foregrounds the often invisible waste stream behind the average American lifestyle. With sly humor and grace, these images, depicting a woman in the latest trashion (fashion made from trash) moving through the infrastructure of waste collection and disposal, questions the clean, neat surface of contemporary life. Shooting on location, such as waste transfer stations, scrap yards and recycling facilities, landfills, incinerators and wastewater treatment plants, is essential to the visual power and impact of this work.

Artist Statement, Robin Michals: I first photographed Lynn working in her studio at 5B making a costume for a dance performance from plastic bags by ironing them together. I was struck by how this was both a creative reuse of this ubiquitous material and a visually striking way to bring attention to single use plastics. She suggested that I also take some photos of her wearing one of the costumes. She put on this amazing Rei Kawakubo-style dress made from plastic bags stamped with “Thank You” that had a long train. We decided to shoot by the fence that runs along the waterfront. In a moment of good fortune, a wake crashed behind Lynn, splashing high as she stood against the fence, highlighting the shape of the dress. The water droplets added that extra something to the photo, mading clear how the location could add meaning to the costume. As a proof of concept, we shot in the parking area of the Sunset Park Sanitation Depot in September. We are now planning the series Waste Side Story in which we will create photographs of Lynn in costume moving through locations where the waste stream is processed to create compelling images that foreground what it takes to support current levels of consumption.


Lynn Neuman is a performer, choreographer, teacher, producer and Director of Artichoke Dance Company. She pursues art’s intersection with daily life and addresses pressing ecological realities with physicality and wit. Lynn was a 2016/17 Association of Performing Arts Presenters Leadership Fellow and is the first choreographer to be awarded a Marion International Fellowship for the Visual and Performing Arts (2015/16). She has been commissioned to create work by Dixon Place, Joffrey Ballet School, Brooklyn Arts Council, DUMBO Development District, The Soraya, and higher education institutes across the country. As a educator and presenter, she is highly regarded and sought for her work in community engagement and the merging of arts and environmentalism. Lynn believes in the power of the arts to effect positive change in people’s lives and communities. To this end, she works with a variety of populations promoting cultural literacy by engaging people in dance experiences.

Find more about Robin Michals at e-arcade.com.

Three Poems from Night Crossing by Kelly Sullivan

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Kelly Sullivan was in residence on Governors Island from October 15-31, 2018.


Cleave

Say nothing is boring. Say there is no where
we cannot find the husk of something
and dig its fine lining, the white thread up
the cicadas’ split trunk. Say there are forty-

five words for the way a helicopter’s rotor blade
fucks up this city. Say we have a job to do,
a field to cull, a closet to open and inside, bees,

woven through the fabric of the wall. Say there are
five or six small tricks we use to fix the planet’s
last gasp, and when we do we open up

ourselves. Then cleave. Split against the grain, move
sideways through the narrow pass, divide
and divide, rehash, repeat, announce a line or two

of industry inside these walls. The plaster falls.
Reveal the grid of honeybees, each cell full
to dripping, each insect’s eye divided to a thousand

tiny globes as if, in concentration, we could
replicate their quiet production, split
and make our own planet again and again, dripping

with the richness of it. Say, then, we just
move on to the next, another range of mountains,
blush of leaves across the cooler hip,

another split river carving out a canyon
for a helicopter to explode in sound. Shut
your mouth on that. We know it is not pass on and pass

on but slowly rising glacier melt. The elm outside
survived disease in the shelter of the island’s
isolated belt. An archipelago of human craft

engulfing it with cells of city blocks, apartments,
windows. Our eyes to the glass. Hands pressed
against it. Just one place. Cleave tight and don’t let go.

Coat Without a Body

Distended to the left, one sleeve
half-tucked at the cuff, dirty
around the collar and ripped
at the edge. Did the man stand up
and walk to the ledge
and leave? Did the woman
take her husband’s coat
when she came across, her night
journey cold, the waves rocking
the small wooden craft?
Is it left at rest, or to rot, moth-
eaten, a drip of paint across
the seam. The brass buttons
gone green.

Styrofoam Stone After the Nor’Easter

Washed up with a line
of dreck. Thrown across
a wooden deck, a wave
of rubbish, human packing
swept in a sheet
of slick dross. A couple
takes turns photographing
each other with
this bridge
spanning the sky. Storm
surge over at three. It’s
going dark
and sand grits
against our feet. I kick
the styrofoam stone
and watch it catch the wind
and blow back in.


Artist Statement: These three poems —“Cleave,” “Coat Without a Body,” and “Styrofoam Stone”—were written for a collection in progress, titled Night Crossing (previously Toledo Blade), a book that explores crossings—rivers, dreams, countries, borders, climates.


Kelly Sullivan is a writer and academic living in New York City. She teaches Irish Studies at New York University. Find more about her at kellyesullivan.com.

Misdirected Flow by Edmund Mooney

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Edmund Mooney was in residence on Governors Island from July 9-22, 2018.



Duration: 9 minutes
Materials: Video

Artist Statement: Historical research was done before and during the residency. Audio and video were captured during the residency and edited during and after. The conception of final form happened after the residency.


Find more about Edmund Mooney at edmundmooney.com.

Gowanus Time Slip Map by Edmund Mooney

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Edmund Mooney was in residence on Governors Island from July 9-22, 2018.


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Materials: Archival Ink Jet Print on paper
Dimensions: 57" by 26"

Artist Statement: An 18th-century map of Gowanus Creek was overlaid with a 1990 aerial photo of the Gowanus Canal. The layers were then finessed until a fusion of graphic content was achieved.


Find more about Edmund Mooney at edmundmooney.com.

Drawings from House 5B Inspection Scrolls by Deanna Lee

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Deanna Lee was in residence on Governors Island from September 4-30th, 2018.


Materials: Ink on vellum

Dimensions: 9 X 12 inches


Artist Statement: During my residency, I made rubbings of eleven walls in House 5B in Nolan Park, to record evidence of the physical effects of water and other natural forces on them. From these documentary works, made of colored pencil on tracing paper, I developed drawings, made of ink on vellum, that bring forth the organic character of the transformation on the walls. On a different wall, I placed these drawings in relationship to the existing features of its surface, as shown in the photographs. These drawings are part of an ongoing project, Amateur Archaeology.


Deanna Lee was born in Putnam County, New York, to parents from China and Taiwan, and raised in suburban Boston. She grew up spending time in her mother’s biology lab and taking classical-music lessons on several instruments for 14 years. Comprising drawings, paintings, site-specific installations, and public artworks, her work interprets everyday traces of transformation in natural systems and the built environment. Numerous venues have shown her work, including Robert Henry Contemporary, Wave Hill, The Drawing Center, and Trestle Projects. Her public artworks include a mural on jersey barriers for the NYC Department of Transportation and a window installation in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Her honors include awards from: Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Asia Society, National Academy, Millay Colony, Saltonstall Foundation. She lives and works in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Survivalist Cinema 1 (Water) by Rachel Stevens

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Rachel Stevens was in residence on Governors Island in 2018.


Dimension and/or Duration: 6min
Materials: Video (Appropriated footage processed with analog processing tools)

Artist Statement: Scenes from 1970s ecological disaster and survivalist films were sampled and processed using analog signal processing tools. During the residency I was able to take the time to isolate scenes specifically involving water and edit them into an experimental piece with a kind of dramatic arc.


Rachel Stevens is an NYC-based artist and researcher interested in social ecologies, critical geography and experimental media. As half of the collaboration Oyster City (with Meredith Drum) she created an Augmented Reality walking tour and game about oysters in NYC and the Fish Stories Community Cookbook, a publication for Paths to Pier 42 that drew together recipes, stories, drawings and ecological information contributed by people living and working in the Lower East Side. She is an editor of Millennium Film Journal and teaches in the Hunter College Integrated Media Art MFA. Recently Rachel has participated in residencies with Works on Water/Underwater New York, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, iLand and Signal Culture. 


Mosholu by Maya Ciarrocchi

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Maya Ciarrocchi was in residence on Governors Island from August 20-September 16, 2018.


Artist Statement: Mosholu is an in-progress series of drawings that map Tibbetts Brook in the Bronx, a waterway which has been directed underground, rerouted and renamed over time. To create this work, I presented these questions:

How does a city whose landscape is in flux affect the identity of its residents?

What is the relationship of urban dwellers to water in poorer neighborhoods versus those in affluent ones?

Who is granted access?

I will continue to add drawings to this series and eventually create a walk which follows the trajectory of the brook from Westchester to the Harlem River.


Maya Ciarrocchi is a Bronx-based interdisciplinary artist whose work addresses identity and the body as a site of history. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and in New York at: Abrons Arts Center, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Chocolate Factory, Kinescope Gallery, and Smack Mellon. Ciarrocchi is a 2017 Bronx Museum of the Arts Artist in the Marketplace alum and has received residencies from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Millay Colony and the UCross Foundation. She received a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, a Film/Video Grant from The Jerome Foundation and funding from The Puffin Foundation. In addition to her art-making practice, Ciarrocchi has created award winning projection design for dance and theater including the TONY-award winning Broadway musical The Band's Visit. She is currently a LABA Fellow in the Laboratory for Jewish Culture at the 14th Street Y and a fellow in the inaugural Moving Towards Justice Dance Art as Activism program at Gibney Dance.

Island, Romance by Asya Graf

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Asya Graf was in residence on Governors Island from October 1-31, 2018.


It was June, not yet summer. The clouds hung low over the towers in the Financial District and Staten Island was a hazy idea, more mirage than landmass. A fine drizzle pricked our faces. Bracing ourselves against the railing on the upper deck of the ferry—8 minutes to Governors Island, the sign said in the waiting room at the Battery Maritime Building—it was like we were swimming already. As though all it took was some water and the anticipation of our bodies in it to erase all that seemed solid and insurmountable.

*

I signed up to swim in the annual race around Governors Island in order to experience my city from a different angle and from a different element, trading air for water, the vertical for the horizontal. I told myself I’m not here to race: I’d spent enough of my youth racing in water, oblivious to everything save my body fighting to beat time. I’d meant to take it slow, to notice the particular way the Statue of Liberty loomed over the water to my right and the four verdigris cupolas on the roof of the Main Building on Ellis Island floated like a fantasy over the industrial waters of the harbor. I wanted new, but what I got was old.

As soon as my body entered water, I had only two goals in mind: stay warm, win. And once the race began: only win. The harbor flicked on and off from view, but all I knew or cared to know was my racing body. Total self-absorption, a paranoid state of proprioception and fixation on a feel for the water to the exclusion of all else. The very thing I longed for—to know my city from the water—receded as soon as I touched water. This tension felt old and familiar: loss at the very moment of possession.

*

Maybe it’s only that I wanted to say, misquoting Whitman: I too lived, Brooklyn was mine. I too walked the streets of Manhattan and swam around it. But swimming around Manhattan felt beyond me, a pool swimmer trained to go for hours back and forth, not around. Instead, there was this little island, a circumference of two-something miles, which was my measure, the measure of my body. Governors Island was intimate and lyric alongside Manhattan’s epic. An island I could hold in my mind, an island a child could draw, a blob with no complications. An ice-cream cone. An island of the mind and of the body. My geographic twin.

*

It’s not quite accurate to say I fell in love, and yet there must’ve been an original falling. The first island I deliberately sought out was Shaw in the San Juan Islands, cupped between mainland Washington and Vancouver Island. I went toward, but mostly came away from. I thought of islands as negative passions: freedom from, escape from, absence of. On the ferry from Anacortes, I scanned the waves for orcas but couldn’t look away from the pale bulk of Mt. Baker behind me. The white mass above, the possibility of whales below—it wasn’t islands I was after but wildness, not shelter but exposure. On Shaw, I found a benign kind of domesticity, the opposite of wildness, although I now understand this to be a false binary. I stayed for a week with the Benedictine nuns at Our Lady of the Rock, learning to card and spin wool and clean the chicken coops. The sisters were an island on an island, their lives weaving together the conflicted connotations of insular—insulated and isolated, safe and cut off.

*

What does it mean to swim around an island? The artist Paul David Young swam across the New York Harbor to Governors Island in order to complete Christopher Marlowe’s unfinished poem “Hero and Leander,” a retelling of the Greek myth in which Leander crosses the Bosporus each night to visit his beloved Hero. It doesn’t end well: one stormy night, her light goes out, he drowns, she throws herself off a cliff. But that wasn’t my myth, was it? I thought I wanted a sense of completion and the satisfaction of encompassing: “to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time,” as T. S. Eliot said. A tight loop around a small island is not transgression, as in crossing a treacherous strait, but a wish for homecoming. Even Odysseus’ ten-year zigzag around the Mediterranean is a circumnavigation of Ithaca, the wildness of his journey subsumed by its purpose—to reestablish domestic integrity. Though of course, in the end, as Tennyson rightly pointed out, Odysseus was not particularly thrilled to be home.

*

And yet something remains from my circumnavigation of Governors Island, something more than my obsession with the race or its myths. Breathing to the left as we passed Castle Williams, I was heartened to see a family of four pedaling south in their rented red surrey, pacing me. I remember too the momentary vertigo after we rounded the southwest tip of the island and all of Upper New York Bay opened up, clear to Staten Island, down to the Verrazano Bridge. Cargo vessels were anchored out in the bay, awaiting clearance, for a tugboat to come fetch them, giants amassing as though plotting a takeover. The gantry cranes loomed over us across Buttermilk Channel, at the Red Hook Container Port. They were loading or unloading an enormous blue container ship, though now I think this was a hallucination. I remember the precise vulnerability of my body. It’s a feeling like sandpaper across the back of my scalp. An industrial harbor is no place for the human body. And yet, this vulnerability takes the form of longing, like the desire for a lover to crush you. I still have dreams of swimming among an armada of container ships. I’d be lying if I said these dreams were nightmares.  

*

Two days later, B. found the sea lice bites. I took off my shirt in the bathroom and B. asked me, “What’s that on you?” The bites looked like measles, a rash spread across my stomach and breasts, following the contours of my swimsuit. The itching was gradual and then persistent. By the time B. pointed out the bites, I was in denial of the other symptoms: fever, lactic burn in all my muscles, shortness of breath, nausea. We were flying to Mexico City in a few days. I should’ve gone to the doctor but didn’t. Two days later, straining up the steps of the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, I was still carrying traces of the harbor. Under the high-altitude sun, my body wouldn’t let me forget the place I called home, a damp archipelago where jellyfish larvae terrorize the unwary swimmer. Female swimmers in particular, trapped in our one-piece swimsuits and bikinis.

*

When I asked a teammate what it’s like to swim around Governors Island, he said it was fine till you got to Buttermilk Channel. That’s where you’ll really smell the diesel, he said. He was right. Once we rounded Picnic Point—the bottom of the ice-cream cone—the quality of the water changed. From the mint and mud smell of the estuary, it took on a thin papery quality, as though it had lost some of its density. Something about it reminded me of acetone. The tide was going out like someone had pulled the plug on the harbor, and we were pushing up against it. The waves were slapping me in the face and I swallowed water. According to the Department of Environmental Protection, the harbor is the cleanest it’s ever been. But still: I likely swallowed fecal matter. It was my way of saying, again misquoting: I am fused with you, men and women of Mannahatta!

*

Ports are places of grief, Philip Hoare writes. Sailors refused to learn how to swim, since swimming would only prolong the agony of drowning. Ports are places of temporary arrival and inevitable parting, of risk, hard labor, hard lives. The containerization of the shipping industry has made the smaller, tighter anchorages of the city unworkable for cargo vessels. The Red Hook Marine Terminal is still a working port, but most shipping has moved to New Jersey and Staten Island. Swimming around the city’s harbor means immersing yourself in grief for its robust history, for its departed vessels, warehouses, carriages and horses and carts and trucks, brothels and saloons and boarding houses and markets. The eeriness of swimming here is due in large part to how empty it is of people.

By contrast, Governors Island feels alive and intimate. A body that will allow me near it. That I can approach, encircle, make mine.

*

After supper my first night with the Benedictine nuns on Shaw Island, I walked over with the other guests to the priest’s house to watch a wildlife documentary. He had just arrived from Kenya, sent to this island by the Church. I wondered what sin he’d committed to merit this exile. He showed us leopards and lions stalking their prey as his eyes filled with tears. Were we the only ones homesick on this entire island, a black African man and an atheist Soviet Jew? Afterwards, in the dark with a flashlight, I hiked up to the highest point on the island in desperate search of reception so that I could call B. I cried imagining B. on our red loveseat binge-watching “Wallander.”

*

Swimming around an island is an exercise in melancholia. Attempting to encompass something you cannot own, to approach something you can only circle around. It is intimacy through distance, being kept away when your heart’s and body’s desire is to possess. For the privilege to land on Governors Island, Governors Island Trust, acting as the Charon of New York Harbor, levied a steep toll from the race organizers. As though to touch the body of the island had to come at a price. The fee notwithstanding, the island’s very geography makes it unapproachable, surrounded as it is by a perimeter of landfill, a bulwark of sharp rocks and debris dredged from the bottom of the harbor and collected from subway construction over a hundred years ago. The island is defended, and I’m self-absorbed, and we’re both impenetrable.

*

Tracing the perimeter of things, knowing all along that circumnavigation is not enough. Who wants to trace the outside when the prize lies in getting through? Governors Island was used primarily for defense of the Upper Bay and the city beyond it. Like the Byzantines’ chain across the Golden Horn—much good it did them against the Ottomans—Castle Williams and Castle Clinton across the water in Manhattan were meant to block British ships in the War of 1812. Then as now, the island is not easily breached. I might have encircled it by swimming around it, but all the fortifications remained between us. The jagged rocks of the seawall, the chain link fence around the promenade, the bureaucratic obstacles to touching the body of the island. Which in fact we never did. We entered the water off a boat and exited via a ramp, never feeling under our feet the fine, squelchy sediment at the bottom of the harbor.

*

One of the first books I read after our immigration from Soviet Russia to San Diego was Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins. The book was, and still is, a staple of the California middle grade curriculum. Of course, I identified with Karana and the real woman on whom her character was based, stranded alone for eighteen years on San Nicolas Island: her home, but not domestic; a wild, terrifying, lonely place that took all her wits to survive. Two ways to lose home: you leave, or all the people you love leave and you alone remain. You desert or are deserted. On clear Santa Ana mornings, I’d strain to see San Clemente Island, the southernmost of the Channel Islands. It seemed close enough to swim to. Remote and unreachable, it became the stand-in for the lost home. A place to long for. If nostalgia is a longing for a home that never was, an island on the horizon is an ideal embodiment of that impossible home.

*

“Remoteness is inseparable from movement, but it is created through a special kind of movement that separates at the same time it connects,” writes John Gillis in Islands of the Mind, talking about the way the remoteness of islands is a social more than geographic construction. I create the distance between us, and then I seek to erase it. Blurring the boundaries, I bring you near while somehow still keeping us apart. Isn’t that what all romances are? Playing with intimacy while striving to maintain boundaries? Or maybe what I was after was an end to this game. I wanted to surrender. Don’t ask me, surrender to whom? Rather, surrender what. Surrender is transitive but not dative. Psychoanalyst Emmanuel Ghent writes that surrender is a passionately sought controlled dissolution of boundaries, a relinquishing of our false self, an intense wish to be known and recognized. Instead of landfill, I wanted landfall.

*

Several weeks after a friend died, I happened to be traveling to Iona in the Hebrides Islands. It was remote and cold, and yet the place was overrun with tourists. Ignoring the crowded abbey, I made for the southern beach where St. Columba was supposed to have landed in the sixth century. There I picked out three spherical pink marble stones, each about an inch in diameter, and brought them home with me. I’d meant to put them on my friend’s grave, but they’ve been hard to give up and I’m no longer even trying. My favorite of the three is the most perfectly round. Flecks of mica glitter as I roll it around on my palm. In Jewish tradition stones stand for the permanence of memory. From Governors Island, I’ll carry always on my body the sea lice scars, mingled with those from chicken pox, contracted one summer thirty years ago in a Soviet sanatorium. I’ll keep too the vertigo of the open bay, the terror under the gantry cranes, a queasy longing for the container ships, and the taste of mint, mud, and diesel.


Asya Graf’s poetry and essays have appeared in Boxcar, Cimarron Review, Comparative Literature, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Sport Literate, Underwater New York, and Vestal Review, among other journals. 

Birth by Maggie Haslam

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Maggie Haslam was in residence on Governors Island from July 23-August 5, 2018.


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Dimensions: 45” x 70”
Materials: watercolor and acrylic with water collected on Governor's Island on paper

Artist Statement: Birth was made to pay homage to the history and origins of Governors Island and was an act done to remember the relationship the Lenape people had to the land they lived on.


Maggie Haslam (born 1988) grew up in Washington D.C. and received her BFA in studio art from BYU in 2013. After graduation, Maggie moved to New York City, and continued her art education at Pratt Institute, receiving her MFA in painting in 2016.

Maggie primarily works in water based paints on paper. She designs situations where she relinquishes total control over the medium, allowing the flowing characteristics of the paint and water to act naturally on paper. The end result is often simply the process caught in the act.

Since 2017, Maggie has collaborated with a fellow artist in a residency program located in Beginning with Children Charter School in Brooklyn, New York. They have worked together with the help of the middle school students on a project relating to immigration and displacement. In the summer of 2018, Maggie received a residency on Governor’s Island, New York with Underwater New York/Works On Water where she used only collected and recycled water to make art with. Maggie has been teaching children in Upper Manhattan/Westchester with Scribble Art Workshop since 2017.

Maggie lives and works in Manhattan, New York. maggiehaslam.com

Traces by Christina Catanese

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Christina Catanese was in residence on Governors Island from August 6-19, 2018.


Video: modern dance and dance drawing creation
Duration: 4 minutes
Music: Zoe Keating, "Legions (War)" excerpt
Choreography & studio performance: Christina Catanese

Artist Statement: This choreography was developed in response to explorations and research on the waterways of New York—their histories, pathways, and how we think about their futures. The choreography and drawing are part of a larger body of work, TRACES. Through site-responsive movement, these performance projects unpack ideas around the interface of human and natural boundaries while channeling the dynamic equilibrium that water seeks. Rivers and streams are constantly changing course, redistributing energy and carving new paths. In a parallel way, dance movement pathways are also not fixed, with some slight variations every time a choreographic phrase is performed. This series of choreographic works uses stream dynamics and river morphology as a point of departure that, when performed, create large drawings as an artifact of the dance, mapping the unique signature of each performance and, abstractly, the water body that inspired it.  

I also developed new methodologies for site-responsive dancemaking with roots in scientific methods. I developed, tested, and used this method during my residency, and some of the movement in the piece above came from this practice. Images of my process are below; a description of my methodology can be found here.


Created during public performance on August 12, 2018.
Dimensions: 4 feet x 12 feet
Materials: Graphite on paper  
Additional Photographs: Robin Michals


Christina Catanese works across the disciplines of dance, education, environmental science, and arts administration to inspire curiosity, empathy, and connection through creative encounters with nature. As an artist, she has participated in residencies at the Santa Fe Art Institute, Signal Fire, Works on Water, and SciArt Center, and has presented her work throughout Philadelphia and the region. As the Director of Environmental Art at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Christina oversees all aspects of creating and implementing an environmental art exhibition program in the nature center’s 340 acres of forests, fields, and gallery spaces. Attending University of Pennsylvania, she has a Masters in Applied Geosciences and a BA in Environmental Studies and Political Science. 

We Cross by Tobias Carroll

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Tobias Carroll was in residence on Governors Island from August 6-19, 2018.


[excerpt from We Cross]

One day in the center of the season of autumn I was asked to go to a nearby harbor city, make contact with an associate of an associate of an associate, and camp out there for several weeks. This seemed agreeable to me. I liked the feeling of coastal towns in the off-season, and I generally savored the way the smell of the ocean blended with the breaths one took to experience the feeling of trees at that time of year.

And so I ended up at the bus station, sitting in a waiting room for a bus line on which I’d never traveled before. The room fit fifty comfortably and held perhaps thirty. I found a group of seats removed from the bulk of the travelers, sat down, and opened a magazine. I was wearing comfortable clothes, jeans and a shirt with a bit of text on it, an allusion to a local radio station whose esoteric broadcasts I enjoyed. Three or four minutes after I sat down, I noticed someone standing over me. I set down my magazine and looked up.

The man who stood there was of average height and seemed in early middle age. He had thinning hair and an athletic frame, and wore wire-rimmed glasses. He was pointing at my shirt. “Why do you have that on?” he said. “Letters and numbers on your person are how they get in, when we cross over.” I stared at him blankly. I expected him to hand me a pamphlet or other religious tract at any moment.

“We cross over unclaimed territory on the route,” he said. “Don’t you know that?”

I told him that I had no idea what he was talking about and asked him to leave. He glared at me for another few seconds and then walked away, shaking his head. I saw him sit with another man of similar age at the other end of the waiting room. I could see the two speaking, both men gesturing emphatically. Periodically the man who spoke to me would look over in my direction and point at me. I watched this for another minute or two and returned to my magazine. We had twenty-three minutes before boarding. The journey was slated to take four hours. I didn’t expect to sleep on the way, but there might be some blessings left to occur on this trip.

Twenty-two minutes later the bus began to board. In this way it was like every other journey by bus that I’d taken: we queued, we handed our tickets to the driver, we boarded. I found a seat towards the back of the bus, gathered together my reading material for the trip, and switched on the overhead light.

The bus pulled into a rest area ninety minutes into the trip. I had never traveled this way out of the city before, and I was savoring the route. We seemed to be traveling on smaller byways below the concrete infrastructure of the interstate highways. We maneuvered through marshland, past small radio transmitters whose call letters I didn’t recognize. I could see reeds fifteen feet away, and I wondered if this route was prone to flooding. It had been a dry season so far; the waters here were unlikely to overtake the pavement on which we drove.

It seemed as though this was a parallel route to some other, more efficiently crafted journey. But we were also making good time: we carried on at a rapid clip, and the road down which we traveled had few stop signs, traffic signals, or congestion. Eventually the marshes gave way to buildings with a more industrial cast. I wondered how near we were to the closest waterway. I saw fisheries nearby; some of the buildings nearby had signage evoking the bodies of fish, or the shells of clams and oysters. And then the bus stopped at a small building, roughly the side of my own apartment, on the side of the road. Waiting there was another man clad in a uniform similar to that of our driver. A few cars sat in the parking lot, and a vending machine out front promised effervescent beverages to those with the cash in hand. The driver fired up the PA.

“All right, folks,” he said in a jovial tone. “That’s it for me on this run. Mr. Bass will be taking you across the state line and through the unclaimed territory to our final destination. As always, it’s been a pleasure being your driver.”

The bus came to a stop, and this driver stepped off and the other man got on board. He settled into his seat and reached down to the microphone. His voice was needlier; it seemed less reassuring than that of his predecessor. “Good evening, passengers,” he said. “I’ll be completing the last leg of the journey. We should be at our final destination in approximately forty-four minutes. For those of you who have brought sacks or hoods, I’ll let you know when we’re in sight of the state line.” And with that the bus left the parking lot and headed back onto the road. In the seats in front of me, I could see the telltale signs of fidgeting, of passengers looking through bags or cases for something in particular. And, once they had each located what they sought, the satisfied postures of one with fewer cares than they’d had a moment earlier.

Ten minutes later, the new driver took to the PA again. “We’re about ninety seconds from the mark; those of you who have your hoods will want to put them on now. Everyone else, please avert your eyes and clear your mind, lest you end up fully fucked like me.”

At this point my heart began to wrack itself against my ribs. I had little sense of what was happening. Around me on the bus, I could see my fellow travelers each donning shapeless sacks over their heads, akin to hostages or journalists conveyed to unknown locations in some wide-screen melodrama. Across the aisle from me, a teenager paused in covering his face and turned to me. “What the hell are you doing?” she said.

“What are all of you doing?” I asked.

“Haven’t you done this route before?”

“No,” I said. Across the aisle, her posture softened.

“So no one told you,” she said. “No one told you about what happens when we cross.

“No,” I said. The feeling that I was confronting something wholly irrational continued, now abutted by the sense that there was actually something to fear.

“There are things that get in you when you cross,” she said. “If your eyes are open, they’ll get in you. If you’re thinking about something, they’ll get in you. Because there’s something on your shirt, they might get in you.”

The driver’s voice came over the loudspeaker again. “Thirty seconds to the state line.”

“Look,” my row mate said. “Close your eyes, keep your head down, and take deep breaths. Focus only on the breathing. That’s the best advice I can give.” She turned her face back to the front of the bus and pulled the sack over her head.

What else could I do? I closed my eyes, bowed my head, and breathed in and out as evenly as I could. I focused on the rhythm.


Artist Statement: During my residency, I found that the rituals of crossing the river to get to and from the island had gotten somewhat under my skin. I became interested in the rituals of traveling, and of the nature of liminal spaces. Cross this with my interest in weird fiction, and you get this novella-in-progress, tentatively titled We Cross, which is excerpted here.


Tobias Carroll is the author of REEL and TRANSITORY. He lives in New York.