One NY Artist: Sanitation Department Artist in Residence Mierle Laderman Ukeles

Saturday, June 29, 2013

There are thousands of artists in New York City. Some are famous internationally, while others are scratching out a living while perfecting their craft in basements or on stage. WNYC is bringing a few of them to the spotlight, in their own voices.

Here, artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles. Since 1977 she has been the artist in residence of the New York City Department of Sanitation, which is a nonsalaried position. Ukeles is currently working on a piece for Fresh Kills, the former landfill in Staten Island that is being turned into a park.

Ukeles just got the approval from the New York City Design Commission for her project for the south part of Fresh Kills park. Her piece will include a cantilever overlooking the area, with two mounds on the side. "When we say mound it sounds very nice, like a mountain, but inside all these mounds are 150 million tons of discomposing garbage," explained Ukeles. "If you lived, or went to school, or worked, in New York City for 50 years ending in 2001 you participated in building those mounds. That comes from you."


Detail of Fresh Kills Drainage System from Phase I Reconnaissance (Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York)

Click on the audio link above to listen to Ukeles talking about her work.


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