Joyce Chan
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Socrates Sculpture Park presents New York-based artist Mary Mattingly: Ebb of a Spring Tide on view May 20 through September 10, 2023. Mattingly’s first solo exhibition at Socrates unveils new sculptural works exploring our relationship to coastal ecosystems and the shifting nature of rivers and water lines. An Opening Celebration will be held on Saturday, May 20 from 12 – 5 pm.

The exhibition will feature a 65-foot living sculpture titled Water Clock, fabricated on-site in response to the Park’s unique waterfront location along the East River. This monumental, scaffold structure, which includes edible vegetation, mirrors the cityscape across the East River, highlighting the human impact on New York City’s riparian zone. The clock’s pulse will be kept by water from the East River moving through tubes on the structure, a reminder of a life support system and the delicate balance of coastal ecosystems.

“A riparian edge reveals how small ecosystem changes impact it. At Socrates Sculpture Park, the East River’s flow joins the larger water cycle,” said Mary Mattingly about her exhibition at the Park. “Ebb of a Spring Tide is a tribute to the power of water, time, and the life force of this riparian edge. The main sculpture pronounces the twice-daily tidal shift, the rise and fall of the saltwater tidal estuary, brought on by the lunar cycle and unfurled by this climate crisis. The Water Clock tells its own time, a Water Time. Water from the East River cyclically falls through the sculpture, and the clock accumulates brackish brine while hosting families of halophyte plants. With each overflow, the clock reminds me that survival is bound to the survival of one another and the earth. It reminds me of the rhythms of nature and respecting the pace of the world around us, as well as the interconnectedness of time, water, and life cycles. It is also a reminder that it is a right and responsibility to care for these cycles.”

Mary Mattingly is an interdisciplinary artist working with sculpture and socially engaged projects to address ecology and consumerism. Her past work includes Watershed Core and the ongoing Swale, a floating edible landscape on a reclaimed barge on New York City’s waterways. Her consideration in creating self-sustaining systems while deeply engaging with local communities has led to the creation of a powerful and engaging body of work. She is an innovative artist whose work asks us to consider how we engage with and access our natural environment. At Socrates Sculpture Park on the waterfront of Western Queens County, similar to other areas in the City, the land is under constant and direct threat from the impact of climate change. Central to the work is the way it refers to the shifting nature of rivers and water lines, and how the East River is not just a line on a map but an integral part of a larger water cycle. For all visitors the work will bring awareness to and highlight the impending threat of sea level rise in this neighborhood. At the same time it will seek to inspire hope that we can prepare for a changing world through innovative design and a restorative relationship with nature.

The exhibition will also include a Flock House, expanding on the artist’s ongoing series of mobile, self-sufficient living systems that challenges notions of home and community. Designed to be adaptable, this dynamic structure will act as a growing, making, and eventual living space to fit the evolving needs of the project. Visitors will have the opportunity to engage with the Flock House through a series of workshops and activations throughout the summer. The program Lotic Time, a culminating event that will reflect and respond to core themes of Mattingly’s exhibition, will be presented on August 5.

“This exhibition offers timely and important reflections on the history and future of the Park’s position along the East River,” explained Kaitlin Garcia-Maestas, Curator and Director of Exhibitions of Socrates Sculpture Park. “Mary Mattingly’s commitment to local ecologies, collective resourcefulness, and site-responsive interventions resonates with many of our programmatic goals. Blurring boundaries between architecture and sculpture, this project will provide unique points of entry for a wide range of visitors. I’m excited to witness these living sculptures grow and evolve over the summer, while also acting as a collaborative platform for community workshops, music, and performance.”

Mary Mattingly: Ebb of a Spring Tide is on view Saturday, May 20 – Sunday, September 10, 2023. An Opening Celebration will be held on Saturday, May 20, from 12 – 5pm. We invite attendees to enjoy the opening day with music, workshops, and seasonal and local tastings at the Park. The event is free, no reservations are required. Socrates Sculpture Park is open 365 days a year, from 9am to sunset. Admission is always free.

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Mary Mattingly (b.1978) is an interdisciplinary artist committed to storytelling through public art, with a focus on imagined futures. She founded Swale, an edible landscape on a public barge in NYC, and has worked on recent projects such as Limnal Lacrimosa in Glacier National Park and Public Water with +More Art in NY. Her work has been exhibited globally, including at the Cuenca, Istanbul, and Havana Biennials, and in institutions such as Storm King, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Palais de Tokyo. Mattingly has received grants from foundations such as the James L. Knight Foundation and has been featured in various documentaries and publications, including Art21 and The New York Times. She was recently awarded a 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts. Her monograph titled “What Happens After” was published by the Anchorage Museum and Hirmer in 2022.

Artist biography and images available for download here.


The free artistic, cultural, and social programming at Socrates Sculpture Park is made possible, in part, by support from Agnes Gund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Charina Endowment Fund, Con Edison, The Cowles Charitable Trust, The Devra Freelander Artist Fund, The Jerome Foundation, Joel Shapiro & Ellen Phelan, Lambent Foundation, Leon Levy Foundation, Maxine & Stuart Frankel Foundation, The Pierre & Tana Matisse Foundation, The Pinkerton Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowships, Paula Cooper, Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, Sidney E. Frank Foundation, Spacetime C.C., and our generous Board of Directors.

Socrates programs are also supported, in part, by public funds from the Queens Borough President Donovan Richards; the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the New York City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency; and the National Endowment for the Arts.


For over 35 years, Socrates Sculpture Park has been an award winning model of public art production, community activism, and socially inspired place-making. Most recently Socrates was honored with the Public Art Dialogue 2023 Founders Award. Over 1,200 artists have created and exhibited new works on its five waterfront acres and outdoor studio facilities. Past exhibiting artists include Agnes Denes, Jeffrey Gibson, Guadalupe Maravilla, Virginia Overton, Jean Shin, Sable Elyse Smith, Nari Ward, Meg Webster, and Hank Willis Thomas.

Socrates is free and open to the public 365 days a year from 9am to sunset. It is located at 32-01 Vernon Boulevard (at Broadway) in Long Island City, New York. Socrates Sculpture Park is a not-for-profit organization licensed by NYC Parks to manage and program Socrates Sculpture Park, a New York City public park

Covid-19 Updates: Socrates remains open to the public at regular hours, 9am – sunset, with free admission. Park policies and updates regarding health and safety can be found at at


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