Breathing Space for the Hudson: Charting the Biodiversity and Pollutants of the Hudson River


This project involved aquatic biodiversity public surveys of the Hudson River in proximity to pollution sources. This work culminated with an installation that attempted to portray Hudson River biological diversity and the effects of pollution. Installed in 2003 at WaveHill’s Glyndor Gallery (Bronx, NY), the exhibition contained three inter-related components:

Each sculpture represented a different salinity gradient point of the river (fresh, estuary and marine) and contained numerous species collected at those locations.

Imaging Biodiversity
Five large-scale high-resolution scanner photographs portrayed uncommon underwater creatures native to the river. Two of the specimens had been “cleared and stained” prior to imaging. This biological procedure enabled viewers to see the abstract and intricate skeletal structure of the specimens.

Hudson River Pollution Maps
This interactive component allowed viewers to research their local polluters via a searchable Environmental Protection Agency database. Four suspended maps, which identified varied sources of pollution, from the New York Harbor to Troy. To create the maps, information was compiled from the federal EPA’s Enviromapper database and after combined with topographical data from the United States Geological Survey.


The title for this work was in homage to Breathing Space for the Sava River (1989/90) by Helen Mayer and Newton Harrison.


Primary scientific collaborators:
Hong Suk Michael Oh, La Guardia College (USA)
Stanley K. Sessions, Hartwick College (USA)
Peter R. Warny, New York State Museum (USA)