A Long White Line

The beauty of conceptual art is that it sheds the fixation with the ‘art object’ and embarks on art as the exploration of an idea. Many conceptual artists have taken this further to create meaningful social interventions through their art. Eve Mosher is one such artist.

Last year, she embarked on HighWaterLine – a conceptual art project exploring the impact of climate change on New York City.  She calculated the high water line following a rise in sea level by 10 inches. Using white chalk paint, she walked round the whole city marking this high water line and, by implication, the parts of New York City that would be submerged. Where she was unable to paint a line, she planted lighted beacons.

Eve Mosher walks around NYC painting her High Water Line
Eve Mosher walks around NYC painting her High Water Line

The aim of the project was, clearly, to raise awareness of one of the impacts of climate change on New York City. During her 5 month walk across the city she engaged with people on the streets, explained what she was doing and what the issues were, handed out leaflets, ran discussion workshops and embarked on other outreach activities to bring attention to the issues.

Eve engages New Yorkers in her art project
Eve engages New Yorkers in her art project

As a work of art, HighWaterLine could not be further from the elitist and exclusive world of the art gallery or the museum.  Its aim is to intervene in the daily life of ordinary people:

“High Water Line seeks to engage people on the street, in the neighborhoods where they live, work and play. People will encounter the chalk line and the beacons while going about their daily lives. The work is an intervention in routine – the public’s as well as my own. This aspect of the piece ensures catching the public’s attention, and it provides easy and direct access.”

"What the heck is that?" you can hear them all asking
“What the heck is that?” you can hear them all asking

The completed project showed that meaningful parts of New York City would be submerged if we continue on the current climate change trajectory

High Water Line - Lower Manhattan
High Water Line – Lower Manhattan

Eve Mosher has addressed climate change in other projects.  In one installation, a series of colored strings stretched across a space from one map to the next. They represented the mass displacement of people that will result from the effects of climate change.

Mass Migration
Mass Migration


  1. The floodwaters after Hurricane Katrina left water lines here etched on everything, homes, buildings, signs, trees, bushes. A further way to dramatize the rising water threat would be to paint everything grey that would be inundated. That also happened here, we returned to a grey city. Then you could add dead animals and people. We lost over a thousand people and no telling how many animals. It was a very sad and shocking event to lose a city to flooding.

  2. HI Alice. Yes, those of you who suffered through Katrina understand what it means to be underwater. Most of the rest of us don’t seem to have taken the issues on board. Painting everything grey seems like an excellent idea! Thanks for your comment. Joe

  3. Pingback: Land Art Generator Initiative

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