project leader
Sarah N
59 Paidge Avenue
Brooklyn (Greenpoint)
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the project

For The Newtown Creek Armada, a model boat pond will be created on the Newtown Creek, one of America's most polluted waterways. Starting on September 8th, visitors will be invited to pilot a fleet of artist-created, miniature, radio-controlled boats along the creek's surface while at the same time documenting the world hidden beneath the water. Each boat in The Armada will be equipped with an underwater camera, allowing participants to record a unique voyage on the creek. Video from these underwater explorations will be on view at the project location, giving visitors a chance to virtually immerse themselves in the toxic waters of this Superfund site providing a powerful educational resource for Queens and Brooklyn neighborhoods on both sides of the Newtown Creek.

By doing so, local artists and residents will be participating in an historic environmental moment for the community around the Newtown Creek. The creek, which borders several neighborhoods in north Brooklyn and western Queens, will be cleaned beginning in 2012.  This will be an important moment for the community to bear witness to the effects of devastating environmental pollution, while imagining future uses for the area. Government agencies and academics are currently working on documenting the state of the creek, but this is the only creative and independent survey that also allows the community to interact with video documentation. The Newtown Creek Armada is a collaboration among three artists - Laura Chipley, Nathan Kensinger, and Sarah Nelson Wright - whose individual work creatively investigates industry, ecology, and change in urban spaces. North Brooklyn Public Arts Coalition (nbART), which produces community driven public art, commissioned the project through an open call. Other local partners include the North Brooklyn Boat Club, the Newtown Creek Alliance, and several local green businesses in Brooklyn and Queens. 

the steps

To create The Newtown Creek Armada, the artists will:

  • Build a fleet of at least eight unique radio-controlled watercraft with underwater HD cameras
  • Test these craft through field visits along the Newtown Creek
  • Forge partnerships with community members, including businesses, boat clubs, and civic organizations
  • Plan additional public programming on site with local schools and businesses
  • Install the boat pond on the Newtown Creek
  • Invite members of the community to explore the waterway at the boat pond!

why we're doing it

The Newtown Creek is at once strangely beautiful, highly toxic and indelibly marked by an ongoing history of enterprise, innovation and abuse. Exploration of the creek and its surroundings reveals a wealth of discarded objects, forgotten spaces, shocking pollution and the hidden workings of the city. The Newtown Creek Armada is a project that seeks to safely extend the opportunity for exploration to the greater public in hopes of fostering a wider participation in a responsible and productive stewardship of New York City’s industrial waterways.


Help us build The Armada! The money we raise through ioby will go to fund four remote-control model boats in the Armada, which will be outfitted with recording equipment and recycled materials to personalize them for the Greenpoint community. 4 boats @ $250 each = $1000 + $87 (ioby fee) =$1087 Venders are NHS Hobbies in Ridgewood, WR Hardware in Greenpoint, Crest Hardware in Williamsburg, and R & L Hardware in Bushwick


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This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


  • Stephen B. W.
  • Barbara N.
  • Sabrina L.
  • Robert C.
  • Hardy W.
  • Katie D.