The Polluted Waters of NYC’s Gowanus Canal Turned into Colorful and Abstract Art

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Peer into the Gowanus Canal in New York City, and you’ll see what is widely recognized as one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States. The contamination is so bad that the canal has been designated a Superfund site.

When photographer Steven Hirsch looks, he sees something more: fine art. His project “Gowanus: Off The Water’s Surface” is a series of photographs that explore the abstract explosions of patterns and colors seen on the surface of the water — sights reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting.

Here’s what New York’s Lilac Gallery — Hirsch has a solo exhibition there through December 15, 2014 — has to say about the work:

Stunning with toxic beauty, the abstract and psychedelic work on view was captured by Steven Hirsch’s lens at the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, one of America’s most polluted waterways. Revealing otherworldly waterscapes in the slime and detritus atop the tainted water, Hirsch’s painterly images swirl in a frenzy of elusive shapes and bright and explosive colors.

Hirsch says he would pay visits to the canal and look into the waters, picking out scenes that looked like paintings that he would capture on camera. “What looked like a giant painting by Monet would be there in front of me hovering on the surface of the water,” he says.

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You can find the entire series of photographs over on the project’s website.


Image credits: Photographs by Steven Hirsch and used with permission

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