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.

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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Dimensions: 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.