Penn Program in Environmental Humanities Competition Winners Presented at Bartram’s Garden

This spring, several art and design installations will extend from Bartram's Garden Community Boathouse. Moored to the banks, and addressing the shoreline, they aim to influence the surrounding area.

These installations are the result of a design competition organized by the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, “Ecotopian Tools for WetLand.” The winners, chosen after a juried selection process, are Cecily Anderson, Eric Blasco, Penn alumna Joanne Douglas, Carolyn Hesse, Gabriel Kaprielian, Mandy Katz and Jacob Rivkin, a lecturer in Penn’s School of Design. They will present their creations at a series of weekly workshops hosted by PPEH partners at Bartram’s Garden April 29-June 3.

The tools, both conceptual and realized, are intended to assist inhabitants of the Schuylkill River watershed as they learn to adapt to the warmer waters of the “Anthropocene,”the term denoting the current geological age that is influenced by human activity. Micro-grants of as much as $1,000 per tool enable the winners to explore and possibly construct their proposals in the watershed and on the river, with the aim of promoting stewardship of the Lower Schuylkill River in and around Bartram’s Garden.

Cecily Anderson will develop a map of the Lower Schuylkill that is receptive to user's inputs. Joanne Douglas will use fibers and dyes to register environmental information along the river bank. Carolyn Hesse will adapt a floating, mirror-like installation that will animate the river's surface. Mandy Katz plans to develop a comprehensive field guide to plants of the Lower Schuylkill in consultation with the Philadelphia Botanical Society. Gabriel Kaprielian will create floating habitat pods that cultivate plants and attract river-dwelling animals. Jacob Rivkin and Eric Blasco will build a "bio-pool,"a passive floating form that will cleanse the river water it gathers.

The WetLand Toolkit project is part of PPEH’s year-long, collaborative, multi-disciplinary series of events and initiatives called Floating on Warmer Waters, which seeks to bring together diverse publics to engage in conversations about the complex relationship of people and nature on the Lower Schuylkill River and watershed.


Ectopian Toolkit art