Who Takes Care of New York?

September 12-29, 2019
Queens Museum 

Install Queens Museum, Jensen 1 72dpi
image courtesy Matthew Jensen

Who Takes Care of New York? 
is an exploration of the variety of civic groups that exist and thrive in New York City, and the ways that they care for and support their local environments. Displayed through maps, art, and storytelling, this exhibition aims to empower visitors with an understanding of their capacity to make lasting changes in their neighborhoods.

The exhibition features artists whose work aligns with the themes of community-based stewardship, civic engagement, and social infrastructure: Magali Duzant, Matthew Jensen, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, and Julia Oldham. Through photography, drawing, book arts, and performance, these artists reflect upon, amplify, and interpret the work of stewards and the landscapes and neighborhoods with which they work.

This project is organized by the USDA Forest Service’s New York City Urban Field Station (NYC UFS) and Pratt Institute’s Spatial Analysis and Visualization Initiative (SAVI), along with Independent Curator, Christina Freeman.

Queens Museum Exhibition PDF

Online Exhibition, The Nature of Cities

Matthew Jensen, Selection from The Forest Between: Street Trees and Stewardship in New York City, 2019, Digital C-prints

Matthew Jensen’s photographic series celebrates the myriad of ways city residents care for street trees and the spaces surrounding them. Jensen is especially taken with what he refers to as New York’s amazing trees–distinctive for their impressive size, ability to thrive in unexpected locations and defy such obstacles as, extreme damage or abnormal habitat.

Jensen’s project recognizes a diversity of practices–from homemade tree guards and creative support systems, to ornate gardens. Through the process of documenting, the artist also participates in his own form of tree stewardship. 

image courtesy Magali Duzant

Magali Duzant’s new commission, Whole Queens Catalog, takes inspiration from Stewart Brand’s 1960’s American counterculture magazine and product catalog (Whole Earth Catalog). Duzant gathered anecdotes, recipes, disaster survival techniques, and other wisdom from stewardship groups throughout Queens that were identified from the STEW-MAP database (a searchable database of city based stewarding organizations) and additional research. All were made available to the public with a free publication.

Jodie Lyn-Kee-ChowThe Picnic: Harvest of the STEW, 2019

Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow The Picnic: Harvest of the STEW
On September 15, a participatory performance by Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow honored stewardship groups in the five boroughs whose work centers around food justice issues. Lyn-Kee-Chow was joined by representatives from Edible Schoolyard NYC, Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, Smiling Hogshead Ranch and Sunnyside CSA. These organizations serving The Bronx, Brooklyn, Harlem and Queens will be highlighted for their projects organized by and supporting New York City’s communities of color and immigrant populations. 

Video Documentation

Julia Oldham, Beaver Village 2019

Julia Oldham’s series presents an amalgamated vision of New York City’s future, inspired by conversations with those most intimately connected to its wilderness. During her New York City Urban Field Station residency, the artist used the STEW-MAP database to connect with with nearly 40 stewards of the city’s natural areas. Asking scientists, park rangers, gardeners, beekeepers, educators and volunteers to share their views – especially in regard to nature and climate change – Oldham collected projections ranging from the utopian to the less optimistic. These visual narratives are a combination of Oldham’s own methodical documentation to create a unique 360-degree photograph, followed by a process of digital collaging with satellite images, drawings, and found photographs.

Public Programs:

Opening Night Reception
Thursday, September 12, 6-8pm
We welcome you to join us on Thursday, September 12 for the opening night reception of Who Takes Care of New York? at the Queens Museum to celebrate the scientists, artists, stewardship groups, and community partners which have made this exhibit possible. Light refreshments will be served.


Performance: Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow “The Picnic: Harvest of the STEW”
Sunday, September 15, 2-4pm
Location: Museum Lawn, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Please join us in the park directly outside of Queens Museum for a performance by Jodie Lyn Kee Chow, honoring stewardship groups in the five boroughs whose work centers around food justice issues. Lyn-Kee-Chow will be joined by representatives from Edible Schoolyard NYC, Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, Smiling Hogshead Ranch, and Sunnyside CSA. These four organizations serving The Bronx, Brooklyn, Harlem and Queens will be highlighted for their projects organized by and supporting New York City’s communities of color and immigrant populations. The performance will begin at 2pm.

Exhibition Walk-through
Saturday, September 21, 12:30-1:30pm
Location: Community Partnership Gallery, 2nd floor
Lindsay K. Campbell, Research Social Scientist with the Forest Service will lead a tour of the exhibition Who Takes Care of New York? Artist, Julia Oldham will join to discuss her project Undiscovered City, featured in the show.

Panel: How We See Stewardship
Saturday, September 21, 2-4pm
Location: Queens Museum Auditorium, 2nd floor
Moderated by Lindsay Campbell (USDA Forest Service), Panelists Magali Duzant, Pamela Pettyjohn, Can Sucuoğlu, Erika Svendsen
Artists, scientists, and designers alike have brought Who Takes Care of New York to life by using the power of visualization to allow us to see stewardship and celebrate those who take care of our city. From the technical to the tactical, we will explore the various strategies employed by these practitioners. Join us for a discussion on the power of images, data visualization, and storytelling to communicate the important role that stewards play in caring for and shaping our city.

Exhibition Team

DSC_0155 Who Care Of New York Exhibit 9 12 19 mp_resize

NYC Urban Field Station, a partnership between USDA Forest Service researchers (Lindsay Campbell; Michelle Johnson; Laura Landau; Erika Svendsen), NYC Parks (Caitlin Boas), and the Natural Areas Conservancy, with a mission to improve quality of life in urban areas by conducting, supporting, and communicating research about social-ecological systems and natural resource management.

Pratt Institute’s Spatial Analysis and Visualization Initiative, SAVI (Jessie Braden; Can Sucuoğlu; Case Wyse; Josephina Matteson; Zachary Walker; Lidia Henderson), a multi-disciplinary mapping research lab and service center within Pratt Institute that focuses on using geospatial analysis and data visualization to understand NYC communities

Independent Curator, Christina Freeman


Campbell, Lindsay. “Who Takes Care of New York,” TheNatureofCities.com. February 14 2020.

Bishara, Hakim. “What to See and Do During New York Climate Week,” Hyperallergic.com. 19 September 2019. Web

Ricciulli, Valeria. “Who Takes Care of New York?: A new exhibition highlights environmental stewardship in NYC,” NY.Curbed.com. 16 September 2019. Web


Introductory Wall Text:
Civic leaders and community members regularly put time and energy into caring and advocating for the environment. We call these acts of care stewardship. Beyond improving the green and blue spaces in our city, stewardship can also lead to other types of civic action. Local stewardship groups can strengthen social trust within a neighborhood. People who come together around the shared love of a garden or park steward not just that space, but also their relationships to one another–making them poised to organize around any number of issues affecting their community. This exhibition highlights the stories, geographies, and impacts of diverse civic stewards across New York through art, maps, and storytelling. 

image courtesy Can Sucuoglu, Pratt Savi, Stewardship groups connections network graphic