New Art Installation on Greenway Draws Attention to Climate Change

A new art installation on the East Boston Greenway by artist and educator Carolina Aragon calls attention to climate change by demonstrating projected flood levels at the neighborhood park.

Aragon, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at UMass Amherst, created the installation titled ‘AGUAfuturas (or ‘fustureWATERS’) with her UMASS students.

The temporary installation will be on view through Dec. 9 on the Greenway between Marginal Street and the Sumner Street overpass.

Named ‘AGUASfuturas’ in recognition of the many immigrant residents of the neighborhood and her own Colombian origins, Aragon said she uses art as a means to illustrate the projected effects of flooding on the Greenway due to climate change.

The two levels of the piece indicate what flooding levels would be in a 100-year storm if experienced with the sea- level rise that the City of Boston’s Climate Ready Boston projected for approximately 2030 and 2070.

The art also changes color as temperatures change, calibrated to illustrate projected heat effects of climate change. Aragon said AGUASfuturas sits in view of the site of the City’s new temporary flood barrier, and makes clear why this flood barrier is needed. She said it is meant to prompt residents and other Greenway users to stop, notice, and understand the scale and complexity of the issue of climate change and its effects on the neighborhood.

“My artwork has always been inspired by natural phenomena,” said Aragon. “In particular, I have always been attracted to water. Many of my installations have sought to create environments reminiscent of waves, clouds, and marshes. AGUASfuturas was inspired by the dynamic quality of the surface of the water. The installation responds to wind and sunlight to create ripples of light and a composition evocative of water’s surface. AGUASfuturas, however, speaks of specific waters—those that are projected to come to the East Boston Greenway due to flooding caused by sea level rise.”

Aragon said as an artist she uses her artwork to help her and her audiences better connect to the places in which they live, to better understand their history, and to better appreciate their landscapes.

“The installation AGUASfuturas is a way to help me better understand and process a future landscape affected by climate change,” she said. “My goal is to bring accessible understanding to this difficult subject in a way that is engaging and playful rather than threatening. I strive to create moments of beauty and wonder that serve as a point of entry to the abstract and challenging subject of climate change. My hope is not only to make the message accessible, but to present it in such a way that it can stay longer in people’s minds, hopefully inciting action.”
The piece is organized by the Boston Society of Landscape Architects in partnership with the  Friends of the East Boston Greenway and the Mystic River Watershed Association as part of a grant from the Barr Foundation Waterfront Initiative.

The Barr Foundation Waterfront Initiative aims to ensure that all people can access and benefit from one of Boston’s greatest public resources. Near-term goals include elevating engagement across Boston neighborhoods with waterfront opportunities and amplifying the voices of those who are deeply affected, but less often connected to decisions about the use and development of the Boston waterfront, bringing people and personal experience to the forefront of initiative efforts and helping to forge emotional ties to waterfront issues and opportunities.

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