Marie Lorenz is a long-term artist. Her current project, Tide and Current Taxi, is in its eleventh year, having begun in 2005. The project is just her and a boat she build herself, traveling the urban waterways of New York City and collecting what she sees there.
For instance, a vast mandala-like structure in her collection is made of all kinds of containers she found floating. Another work is prints made using found items from her beach landings.
But most of her project is the photos and videos she has collected on her journeys of the people she has taxied around the waterways and of her own observations on the slow, thoughtful process of traveling.
Her boat is a special one, though if it has a name, Lorenz has not shared it. It is homely, made of plywood and fiberglass to her own simple design. Before it was assembled, Lorenz carved each panel richly with vistas and wildlife from the New York waterways, then printed them onto long sheets of paper like a woodcut.
Not all of the nautical art project has been peaceful driftings. Lorenz, who is 43, has experienced capsizes, including one near-drowning when her life jacket got caught on the mast as the boat rolled over and began to sink.
But she still goes out nearly every day. And in July and August of this year, she is undertaking her biggest step in the project. She is rowing from Buffalo to New York City via the Erie Canal and the Hudson River. This is no short voyage: she’ll have to go around the entire state of Maine on the way. The Erie Canal alone is nearly 400 miles long and descends through 35 locks.
Lorenz predicts the trip will take 5 weeks, and she plans to average 15 miles a day, depending on weather. With rowboats averaging perhaps three miles an hour, that is a long, hard day. Fans can accompany her virtually via the daily videos she posts to her blog or physically on the water, either in their own boats or hers, by contacting the Everson Museum in Syracuse.
Her exhibition called Ezekia, which includes her physical artwork and many of her videos and photos, is on display at the Albright Knox Art Gallery until September 11th.