Freshkills Parks has teamed up with Art, Activism, and the Environment, a research team producing public works and knowledge as part of the Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research from the Center for the Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center to promote deeper collaboration across the humanities and the environmental sciences. This project uniquely brings together the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and CUNY, two NYC institutions with deep roots in all five boroughs, to rethink the ways in which city dwellers shape and are shaped by their landscape. As part of this multi-faceted collaboration, Freshkills Parks and the Center for the Humanities are proud to award Christine Stoddard the 2018 Reclaimed Lands Conference Planning Fellowship.

Christine Stoddard
Christine Stoddard, 2018 Reclaimed Lands Conference Planning Fellow

The Freshkills Park development team is producing a multi-disciplinary conference centered on Reclaimed Lands in late June of 2018. This four-day conference will bring together researchers, practitioners, planners, ecologists, artists, designers, community groups, and students to bridge the gaps between disciplines and productively explore the issues and initiatives surrounding these reclaimed lands, such as monitoring changes in biodiversity, designing ecologically sustainable re-development, engaging residents in stewardship, transforming public perceptions, and inspiring future projects. As the 2018 Freshkills Park Reclaimed Lands Conference Planning Fellow, Christine Stoddard has a background as an artist, writer, and environmental enthusiast, and was recently the visiting artist at Annmarie Sculpture Garden, a Smithsonian affiliate in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay region.

During her two-month residency at Annmarie, Stoddard designed and created a public art installation with the community. By the end of the summer, the public art project consisted of 11 sculptures, 36" wide or bigger. The sculptures were made out of various recycled materials from the Chesapeake Bay region. Each sculpture depicted a different animal native to the area. The idea was to engage the public in an art activity while educating them about local environmental concerns. Stoddard collaborated with a Smithsonian naturalist to ensure the project's scientific accuracy. Throughout the process she also conceived of all written materials and photo documentation for the project. Today the sculptures are displayed in Annmarie's children's garden.  

Junk Crab Sculpture
Junk Crab Sculpture in Annmarie's children's garden by Christine Stoddard

Stoddard's Annmarie Sculpture Garden residency is one of many such projects in her history of producing socially-engaged art and writing. Highlights include serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer, an artist fellow for the Flatbush Nostrand Junction Business Improvement District, and the founding editor of Quail Bell Magazine. Christine is eager to return to an environmentally focused project, and help plan the Freshkills Park Reclaimed Lands Conference.