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Mary Mattingly, Waterpod Photo courtesy of the artist


Mary Mattingly believes that art is integral to envisioning new worlds. Tackling societal consumption and a mounting ecological crisis, she co-creates interdependent living systems that can contribute to a shared present and future by working in collaboration with people from fields of engineering, education, and earth sciences.

Waterpod was a mobile self-sufficient habitat built entirely from New York’s waste chain that included an event space, a greenhouse, garden beds, chickens, rainwater collection, four cabins, a kitchen, shower, and a greywater purification system. Triple Island, located on a landfill site, creates a regenerative living system that provides food, power, shelter, and water from natural systems.  Swale is a floating edible landscape on a reclaimed barge that relies on marine common law to circumvent local laws that prohibit growing or picking food on New York’s public land. People can visit Swale to pick edible and medicinal perennial plants for free. Finally, In the Navel of the Moon is part of Nomadographies, a series of photographs capturing performances, sculptures and installations in which the artist conceives visions of survival and migration amidst environmental change.

Mary Mattingly’s work has been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, the International Center of Photography, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Habana, Storm King, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and the Palais de Tokyo. In 2015 she launched Swale, a floating food forest on a barge in New York and began transforming military equipment into social infrastructure (with MoMA and BRIC Brooklyn). Her work has been featured in Art in America, Artforum, Sculpture Magazine, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The New Yorker, and on BBC, NPR, and Art21. Her work has also been featured in MIT Press’s Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art, and Henry Sayer’s A World of Art. Mattingly is engaged in questions about how art can influence policy and strengthen the Commons.


Nomadographies, In the Navel of the Moon, 2008.

Swale, New York City, 2016. Image: Cloud Factory.

Triple Island, Pier 42, New York City, 2014.

Waterpod, New York City, 2009.

More Information


Mattingly’s work was shown in May 2019 as part of an exhibition commissioned by the UN Disaster Risk Reduction Office (UNDRR) alongside the Lake Geneva border. The exhibition coincided with UN Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, held in Geneva, Switzerland.