Images of fish appear on many urban storm drains. They're meant to discourage polluters, a reminder that the gutter drains to the sea. In New York, they're often accompanied by the phrase, "Dump No Waste. Drains to Waterways."
I started making rubbings of these fish, using crayons and tracing paper, rice paper or parchment. The images (and the stylized signature) are a play on Japanese-style fish prints. In addition to New York City, I've also made rubbings of fish on drains in Chicago and New Jersey.
Many people have since told me that they'd never noticed these fish before. Several friends have then sent me photographs of the storm drain fish they've encountered.
To me, this project is about the connection between our urban environment and nature—a connection that is easily overlooked but very real.
Isaac Kestenbaum has worked as a newspaper reporter, a teacher, an organic farmer and as a sternman aboard a lobster boat in Stonington, Maine. He now works as General Manager for Cowbird, an online storytelling library. For the four years before that, he was the Production Manager at StoryCorps, a national nonprofit oral history and radio project. At StoryCorps, he was the recipient of both a Peabody Award and an Alfred I. Dupont Award. Isaac holds a degree in sociology from Vassar College.