The Watershed Project 

(St Mary's County, Maryland)

Boyden Gallery, St Mary's College of MD

Oct 18 - Nov 22 2016

What does the Chesapeake Bay watershed mean to the people who live there? And how can new visual approaches illuminate both the particular intimate lived experiences of the region and its broader contemporary challenges?

Those are the central questions this exhibition explores in considering the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding areas through visual art and collaboration with local communities. The Watershed Project is a cumulative, ongoing effort - an interdisciplinary, collaborative series of exhibitions focused on the environmental, social, and cultural state of the watershed, which encompasses 150 major rivers and streams and is home to over 17 million people. Our first chapter focuses on where the Bay and its largest tributary, the Potomac River, converge: St. Mary’s County.

The watershed is a vital ecosystem, beautiful natural environment and regional economic engine. It’s also severely stressed by development and pollution and extremely vulnerable to climate change. This exhibition responds to this complexity of lived experiences in the Chesapeake region by filtering these broad realities through many lenses; personal, poetic, documentary and sensory. The Watershed Project explores the communities’ understanding of and investment in the watershed, as well as the effects of recent transformations on the fragile ecosystem and the culture and traditions of St. Mary’s County. Our approach is to consider the watershed as a place and also something in our minds, our experiences, and our histories. We want to provoke more questions than answers, in hopes that creative looking might encourage creative action.

What does the watershed look like, smell like, sound like? 

What do residents know of its past, think about its present, or imagine for its future? 

What do we want for the watershed, and how can we make that happen?

Historical fisheries gear

archival photos from Calvert Marine Museum, curated by Cristin Cash

Aqua Memoriae

Multimedia by Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac

Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac are working directly with Watershed residents (beginning with St Mary's County) to document their stories, including images and oral histories, of their most important memories related to: growing up on the water, working in the fishing industry, finding ancient artifacts, protecting the coastline, and dealing with the effects of climate change.

Liquid Light

video art by Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac

Fairhaven Dreams: A Family history

photo diptychs by Bill Crandall


appropriated satellite imagery by Mark Isaac

This work connects the water to the land and the world of human activities through a simple construct: images of water that are near streets named after the water. These streets are everywhere, named for the most important feature of the surrounding landscape: Water Street, Chesapeake Avenue, or Bay Parkway. By using appropriated satellite imagery as the source, surveillance technology is turned into a contemporary palette of colors and textures, celebrating the diversity of the Watershed and hinting at the many human impacts threatening its future.

Monocular Studies

photos by Gabriela Bulisova