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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.

Jet Ski and Plastic Purse by Marie Lorenz

“Jet Ski (Outer)” 2011. Hand printed with Sumi ink on Kozo-Shi. 192″ x 144″

“Jet Ski (Outer)” 2011. Hand printed with Sumi ink on Kozo-Shi. 192″ x 144″

“Plastic Purse” 2011. Collograph on Rives deLyn. 8″ x 6″

“Plastic Purse” 2011. Collograph on Rives deLyn. 8″ x 6″

Artist Statement

These two prints are from a series made from objects that I find while exploring in my boat. In some ways I think of printing washed up debris as another way to collaborate with the tidal currents in the harbor.  The harbor takes all these objects and sucks them in, then redistributes them around the shore according to weight, shape and density. Then I come along and do something else with them. I have been making these flotsam prints by inking the object and then pressing paper onto the form. Sometimes I print them right where they lay in the sand and sometimes I bring the objects back to my studio and print them with a printing press. Printing this way is an attempt to record the story that an object tells about itself, about its own travels on the tide.


Based in Brooklyn, Marie Lorenz uses handmade boats as artworks; navigating throughout the city’s waterways. Her work includes video, sculpture, and a photographic web journal that documents her exploration. Visit her website to learn more.