05 Nov - 19 Dec 2015
9 - 5am
Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
8480 Hagy's Mill Road
Philadelphia, PA, 19128
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The Schuylkill Center's latest environmental art exhibition, Nancy Cohen’s Hackensack Dreaming, has transformed the gallery spaceevoking the complex wetlands of the Hackensack River. Made of glass, handmade paper, and rubber, the work explores fragility, perseverance, and the collision of the urban and natural.
The Schuylkill Center's latest environmental art exhibition, Nancy Cohen’s Hackensack Dreaming, has transformed the Schuylkill Center’s gallery space into an immersive experience evoking the complex wetlands of the Hackensack River. Made of glass, handmade paper, and rubber, Hackensack Dreaming explores fragility, perseverance, and the new realities produced by the human and natural colliding in unexpected ways.
Nancy Cohen’s Hackensack Dreaming is the artist’s response to her time spent exploring the wetlands around New York city – a place where human and natural forces meet and give rise to something wholly new. Cohen explores what nature means in an urban context and in a changing global environment, using a quiet, nearly forgotten marsh as inspiration and reference point. Tucked between a Walmart, outlet malls, and a wastewater treatment plant, and within view of the New York City skyline, the wetlands of the Hackensack River spoke to Cohen as an “isolated puddle of the organic in a deluge of the human-made.” Remnant stumps of an ancient cedar forest emerge from the water as a reminder of the past life and trajectory of this ecosystem, but the hum of the greater metropolitan area forms a new backdrop.
Yet, nature has adapted and carried on despite this disturbance, with plants and birds making unlikely homes and building a new future in this space full of contradictions. Made of glass, handmade paper, rubber, and other materials, Hackensack Dreaming explores fragility, perseverance, and the new realities produced by the human and natural colliding in unexpected ways, and figuring out how to coexist.
In a similar way, the Schuylkill Center sits on 340-acres of fields and forests in Northwest Philadelphia. Bordered by train tracks adjacent to the Schuylkill River, ballfields, reservoirs and water towers, and residences, we serve as a living laboratory to foster appreciation, deepen understanding, and encourage stewardship of the environment. But even in these lush grounds where one can often forget the fact of being within the city limits, human influence is evident. An stone old wall emerges from the landscape, from the days when our property was farmland; the distant whirr of the Schuylkill Expressway blends with bird calls and the wind through the trees; invasive plants, recently arrived from faraway places, compete with plants that have evolved in Pennsylvania over thousands of years.
Our own unique layering of the wild and the human provides a rich context for artists to explore through our environmental art program. Presenting Cohen’s work in our gallery invites an intriguing dialogue between these two novel places, both caught between paradigms, neither wholly human nor natural.
When I first saw Cohen’s work, I was struck by how she was able to creatively convey scientific information through intricate constructed forms. Her work opens the door to a much more intuitive understanding of ecosystem processes, revealing connections that might go unseen. Artists like Nancy present novel ways to ask questions, and – on the eve of the Paris climate talks – help spur our thinking about how we can more cooperatively work with these natural forces for a sustainable future.
Hackensack Dreaming will come to Philadelphia from New Jersey City University, and will travel to Duke University after a six-week run at the Schuylkill Center. The public is invited to an opening reception for Hackensack Dreaming, including a chance to meet the artist, see the installation in the Schuylkill Center gallery, and enjoy light refreshments on Thursday, November 5 from 6 – 8 pm. Hackensack Dreaming will be on view at the Schuylkill Center from November 5 – December 19.
For more information about artist Nancy Cohen, visit: www.nancymcohen.com/
About the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
The Schuylkill Center was founded in 1965 as the nation’s first urban environmental education center. Its 340-acres of fields and forests serve as a living laboratory to foster appreciation, deepen understanding, and encourage stewardship of the environment. Reaching over 36,000 Philadelphia-area residents each year, the Schuylkill Center offers a diverse collection of educational programs, including programs for school, continuing education for teachers, Pennsylvania’s first Nature Preschool, and a full calendar of events for the public. In 2015 the Schuylkill Center is celebrating 50 years of connecting people and nature, with a series of events highlighting the Center’s work and vision for the future. The Environmental Art program at the Schuylkill Center provides opportunities to investigate, innovate, and interpret the nature of place, through presentations of outdoor and indoor art. For more information: www.schuylkillcenter.org.