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.

Oil So Heavy It Sinks by Nura Qureshi

 OBJECT: Heavy Oil

BODY OF WATER: Gowanus Canal


Qureshi’s range encompasses fine art photography as well as photojournalism. In 2008, she was awarded a grant to travel to Cambodia and document survivors of the Khmer Rouge. She has also documented medical missions in Ghana and Guatemala. Qureshi’s work has been featured in a number of group exhibitions: photographs inspired by unearthed histories around New York shown in the “Underwater New York” exhibit in 2009-2010 at Proteus Gowanus Gallery and the Frying Pan. In 2010 she was part of the Biennial Juried Photography Exhibit at the Edward Hopper House, exhibiting images from her current work of “The Itching Hijab” which explores the complexities of coming from the East while living in the West.