Nancy Cohen takes getting to know waterways seriously. Creating “Estuary: Moods and Modes” was a labor of love. Cohen traveled New Jersey’s Mullica River on foot and by boat, noting the river’s subtle color variations and deepening blue hues as it progressed toward the ocean. She spent six months transforming marsh grasses into handmade translucent abaca paper, pigmented to reflect the river’s varying colors. Attaching the paper to wire frames to form her 35 foot-long sculptural installation took five months. The result mirrors the river’s grace, fluidity and complexity and leaves us yearning to know more.
The tension of necessary interdependence in which fragility and strength coexist lies at the core of much of my work. In recent years I have become increasingly interested in the waterways of NY and NJ, where I live and work. From readings, conversations with marine biologists and environmentalists and, more directly, from walks, boat rides and direct observation—I have begun to feel the ecosystem as a fragile presence in itself. As in our own lives, elements hang in the balance, each one necessary, vulnerable, beautiful and above all interdependent. My sculptures and installations are my way of reflecting on our natural systems and on the delicate balance they must maintain to survive.
The waterways are in slow and constant evolution, much as we are. Form, space and color are never static. In its movement the water changes what it touches—it quite literally moves the environment that gives it form. And, lastly, the nature-in-itself of our waterways does not exist alone. A man-made world impinges and is impinged upon. But the necessity of evolution, of impact and especially of inescapable but perilous interaction—this is what each of us confronts in every moment of our lives. In its moods and modes, I have found the ways of the water very human.
Artist’s website: http://www.nancymcohen.com