First Friday Porch Chat, Urban Soils Institute and Project:Soils

Join Project: Soils artists Cynthia Connolly and Margaret Boozer, Urban Soils Institute scientist and Director Tatiana Morin, USI scientist George Lozefski, special guest Stefanie Fedor, and Swale House artist Julie Nagle for a laid back porch chat on a wide range of topics including soils, art, recycling and environmental activism. Possible guest appearance by Sam Droege and Sue Stockman, who are leading the Bee Build project at Swale House the following day.

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Cynthia Connolly is a photographer, curator, letterpress printer and artist who lives in Arlington, Virginia. She is a graduate of both the Corcoran College of Art and Design, and Auburn University’s Rural Studio. In 1988 she published Banned in DC: Photos and Anecdotes From the DC Punk Underground (79–86) through her independent press Sun Dog Propaganda. Her photographic work, postcards and books were exhibited in Beautiful Losers in the United States and Europe from 2004–2009 establishing her as a pioneer in DIY culture. Reviewed internationally, her photography is held in many private collections, as well as by The J. Paul Getty Museum, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Smithsonian Museum of American History and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Prior to becoming a curator she worked for Dischord Records and booked an avant-garde performance venue, d.c. space. As Special Projects Curator for Arlington County, Virginia she launched the Arlington Art Truck with a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in 2018. The Arlington Art Truck brings curated short interactive art projects to open public spaces, an idea inspired by her experience working for an organic grower selling vegetables in a famers market. There she learned that people took time to engage and were more open to new ideas in the social setting of a farmers market. The Arlington Art Truck uses that same format of public engagement but instead of vegetables, interactive artwork designed collaboratively with the artist and curator is unloaded with a message that supports a County initiative or local non-profit. Both the artist and a County representative are present so when discussion is sparked by the interaction, the experts are there to answer questions generated by the art iteration itself – becoming a sort of mobile town hall for arts and civic engagement. She has been a curator for Arlington County, Virginia for fifteen years and continues to search the world both as curator and artist to connect disparate places, people and things.

Margaret Boozer lives and works in Prince Georges County, MD, in the Washington, DC metro area. She received a BFA in sculpture from Auburn University and an MFA in ceramics from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Boozer developed an interest in digging native clays that has led to collaborations with soil scientists and work that explores intersections of art and science. Boozer taught for ten years at the Corcoran College of Art and Design before founding Red Dirt Studio in Mt. Rainier, MD where she directs an artist/ creative professional incubator. Publications include a chapter for U. S. Geologic Survey’s Soil and Culture, and an interview in Field to Palette: Dialogues on Soil and Art in the Anthropocene. Recent work includes a large scale mapping/ earth work for MGM National Harbor in Maryland using clay and artifacts dug from the site. Exhibitions include Swept Away: Dust, Ashes and Dirt at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. She directs the Art Extension Service for New York Urban Soils Institute, and as such helped craft the soil scientist + artist collaboration initiative, Project: Soils. Current collaborations include creating an urban soils room with NY USI on Governor’s Island, as part of Mary Mattingly’s Swale House, and managing the Project: Soils collaborative art/ science residency on site.

Tatiana Morin, USI Director.
Being a co-founder and subsequently named Director of the NYC Urban Soils Institute (USI) is a natural progression to Tatiana Morin’s work. With beginnings in Geology, she moved to hydrogeology and eventually applied her work to Green Streets, a research project out of Drexel University where she handled water and soil research in storm water capture systems. She was a member of the steering committee for SWIM NYC (Stormwater Infrastructure Matters) and served as a Stormwater Technician for NYC Soil and Water Conservation District since 2007. She directs operations for NYC USI in five programming areas: Soil Testing and Technical Services, Data Bank & Exchange, Education & Engagement, Research, and International Partnerships & Collaboration. On a personal note, she rather live outside, has a mini farm, and loves composting toilets! Her slogan is “Take care of your own sh**”.

George Lozefski is the Laboratory Manager and Field & Education/Outreach Coordinator at the NYC Urban Soils Institute. As a dedicated and passionate scientist and educator, George has conducted environmental research at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory for over ten years, and has been teaching geosciences courses for over ten years at CUNY – Brooklyn College. He teaches soil science courses at the New York Botanical Garden’s School of Professional Horticulture. George conducts soil science and soil testing workshops and provides training in soil quality test evaluations for academic and community settings. He manages technical and consulting services for soil restoration and remediation projects. George Lozefski also conducts research in green infrastructure including stormwater capture, soil structure, infiltration, water and soil quality, and biogeochemistry. George received his B.S. in Geology at CUNY – Queens College and M.A. in Environmental Science at CUNY – Brooklyn College.

Stefanie Fedor is the Executive Director of the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, a 30,000 square foot art center in the heart of Richmond, Virginia’s Fan district where she brings over 25 years of experience in visual arts programming to help the center achieve its mission to celebrate and support the creative life of all people through art-making, exhibitions and community programs. With a full-time staff of 18 and over 200 teachers, VisArts offers over 1000 classes annually in visual and creative media in 16 professional studios including wood, glass, fiber, printmaking, metals, painting, drawing, photography, digital media and creative writing. VisArts is also home to the True F. Luck Gallery, focusing on the ways contemporary artists are innovating materials and processes and an emerging artist residency program launched in 2019. Ms. Fedor holds a BFA in studio art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a MA in visual arts administration from New York University

Julie Ann Nagle’s current work explores the intimate relationship between ancestry, mortality, transcendent mediation through making, and humanities’ place among other species. She approaches the investigation of her subjects through all methods available, uniting empirical, analytic, emotional, and sentimental modes of inquiry. Through the combination of tools ranging from soil samples and archaeological excavation to oral tradition and storytelling, she captures her subjects to the fullest and richest possible extent. She has made work addressing undervalued scientific processes, monuments and marginalized historical figures, the evolution of plastics production and industrialized agriculture, and the proliferation of ideologies through modes of mass production. By weaving research processes with poetic reflection Nagle carves out complex spaces balancing objectively ordered scientific fact against the passions of lived experience; investigating both physical matter and the magnitudes of what matters. After receiving her BFA at The Cooper Union School of Art she completed her MFA in Sculpture + Extended Media at Virginia Commonwealth University. This winter Nagle had a solo exhibition, “At Daybreak,” at McLanahan Gallery in the Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts, Penn State University, Altoona, PA. She has exhibited in group exhibitions at Abrons Art Center, New York, NY; Franconia Sculpture Park, Franconia, MN; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; the RISD Museum, Providence, RI; A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; BRIC ArtsMedia, Brooklyn, NY; and Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, NY; among others. Additionally, she has been awarded over a dozen grants including a Jerome Foundation Fellowship and a National Academies Keck Futures Initiatives (NAKFI) grant subaward for her collaborative work with scientists. The many residencies she has participated in include the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Core Program, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Seven Below, Sculpture Space, Gallery Aferro, Abrons Art Center, and the International Studio and Curatorial Program. Nagle is currently an Artist in Residence at Swale House on Governor’s Island, from June 1 through October 31, 2019. For studio visits or inquiries please email


Jul 05 2019


6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Swale House


Swale House
Building 15, Nolan Park, Governor's Island


Swale House

Other Organizers

NYC Urban Soils Institute
NYC Urban Soils Institute

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