Aragón’s Artwork Shows Projected Flood Levels in East Boston

Carolina Aragón in front of one of the installations making up “FutureWATERS | AGUASfuturas.” Photo by Rudy Seitz
Carolina Aragón in front of one of the installations making up “FutureWATERS | AGUASfuturas.” Photo by Rudy Seitz

Carolina Aragón, assistant professor of landscape architecture, and her students have created a temporary art installation that shows projected flood levels on the East Boston Greenway.

“FutureWATERS | AGUASfuturas” is on the greenway between Marginal Street and the Sumner Street overpass, and the closest access point is at Marginal Street. It is on view through Dec. 9.

“FutureWATERS | AGUASfuturas,” named in recognition of the many immigrant residents of the neighborhood, uses art as a means to illustrate the projected effects of flooding on the Greenway due to climate change. The two levels of the piece indicate what flooding levels would be in a 1 percent storm — akin to the nor’easters that hit Boston in January and March — if experienced with the sea level rise that is projected for approximately 2030 and 2070, according to the City of Boston’s Climate Ready Boston reports. The art also changes color as temperatures change, calibrated to illustrate projected heat effects of climate change too.

“My artwork has always been inspired by natural phenomena. Many of my installations have sought to create environments reminiscent of waves, clouds, and marshes. ‘FutureWATERS’ was inspired by the dynamic quality of the surface of the water. The installation responds to wind and sunlight to create ripples of light and a composition evocative of water’s surface. FutureWATERS, however, speaks of specific waters—those that are projected to come to the East Boston Greenway due to flooding caused by sea level rise,” Aragón said.

Project collaborators from UMass Boston contributed scientific and technical expertise as well as sea level rise projection data. They include Paul Kirshen from the Sustainable Solutions Lab and Chris Watson from the School for the Environment.

“FutureWATERS | AGUASfuturas,” which sits in view of the site of the city’s new temporary flood barrier, is intended to make a strong statement on why the flood barrier is needed.

“As an artist, I use my artwork to help me and my audiences better connect to the places in which we live, to better understand their history, and to better appreciate their landscapes. … My hope is not only to make the message accessible, but to present it in such a way that it can stay longer in people’s minds, hopefully inciting action,” Aragón says.

The piece is organized by the Boston Society of Landscape Architects in partnership with the Friends of the East Boston Greenway and the Mystic River Watershed Association as part of a grant from the Barr Foundation’s Waterfront Initiative.