Gov­er­nors Island Arts and NRDC Present Jen­ny Kendler: Oth­er of Pearl


Gov­er­nors Island Arts and NRDC (Nat­ur­al Resources Defense Coun­cil) today announced a part­ner­ship to present Oth­er of Pearl, a site-spe­cif­ic pub­lic art exhi­bi­tion by Jen­ny Kendler telling the sto­ry of our planet’s chang­ing cli­mate. Locat­ed in the his­toric Fort Jay on Gov­er­nors Island, Oth­er of Pearl con­sid­ers the oys­ter and whale as cen­tral play­ers in the eco­log­i­cal and eco­nom­ic entan­gle­ment between human and non­hu­man beings. The artist con­fronts con­tem­po­rary envi­ron­men­tal issues — ocean noise, chem­i­cal pol­lu­tion, cli­mate change and sea lev­el rise — while point­ing to the extrac­tive his­to­ries that form the ori­gin sto­ries of our cli­mate crisis.

Oth­er of Pearl opens to the pub­lic on Fri­day, June 14, and will be open Wednes­day to Sun­day through the end of Octo­ber at his­toric Fort Jay, part of the Gov­er­nors Island Nation­al Mon­u­ment. The exhib­it marks the first pub­lic art exhi­bi­tion open­ing on Gov­er­nors Island fol­low­ing the March 2024 announce­ment of the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island’s new Head Cura­tor and Vice Pres­i­dent for Arts and Cul­ture, Lau­ren Haynes, who joined in March 2024.

I am thrilled that Oth­er of Pearl is the cen­ter­piece of our 2024 Gov­er­nors Island Arts pro­gram­ming,” said Lau­ren Haynes, Head Cura­tor and Vice Pres­i­dent for Arts and Cul­ture at the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island. Work­ing with Jen­ny, NRDC, and the Gov­er­nors Island team on a project that touch­es on many of the pil­lars of our pro­gram­ming has been a delight and we look for­ward to wel­com­ing vis­i­tors to the Island this sum­mer to expe­ri­ence it.”

Kendler’s first solo exhi­bi­tion in New York City, Oth­er of Pearl fea­tures a series of sev­en inti­mate, del­i­cate works — all dis­played in the cav­ernous, sub­ter­ranean mag­a­zine of his­toric Fort Jay, a star-shaped for­ti­fi­ca­tion built on Gov­er­nors Island between 1775 and 1776. In dark­ened rooms that echo with whale song, vis­i­tors will encounter pearl sculp­tures grown inside oys­ters, bells rung by fos­silized whale ear bones, a crys­talline whale eye cast of sea salt and human tears, glass vials filled with oil from long-dead whales, and a human ner­vous sys­tem metic­u­lous­ly strung from thou­sands of tiny pearls. In the adjoin­ing gal­leries, two large hand­blown glass instru­ments evoke the organs hump­back and sperm whales use to com­mu­ni­cate, invit­ing vis­i­tors’ son­ic acti­va­tion. David Gru­ber of Project CETI has pro­vid­ed the whale record­ings that become part of these sound works. After the con­clu­sion of the exhi­bi­tion, pearl sculp­tures from the show will be auc­tioned to raise funds to help cre­ate a new oys­ter reef along­side project part­ner Bil­lion Oys­ter Project, redis­trib­ut­ing resources in a ges­ture of eco­log­i­cal restora­tion. A full descrip­tion of indi­vid­ual works fea­tured as part of the exhi­bi­tion can be found at gov​is​land​.org.

While cli­mate change can be over­whelm­ing, con­fus­ing and polar­iz­ing — art has a unique abil­i­ty to reach peo­ple and help us process the chal­lenge,” said Kristin Wil­son-Palmer, Chief Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Offi­cer for NRDC. This beau­ti­ful and pow­er­ful new exhib­it from Jen­ny Kendler brings peo­ple togeth­er for reflec­tion and con­ver­sa­tion on the most sig­nif­i­cant envi­ron­men­tal chal­lenge of our time — and, hope­ful­ly, will inspire them to act.” 

An inter­dis­ci­pli­nary eco­log­i­cal artist, envi­ron­men­tal activist, nat­u­ral­ist and wild for­ager whose work has been exhib­it­ed nation­al­ly and inter­na­tion­al­ly at muse­ums, bien­ni­als, pub­lic spaces and nat­ur­al areas, Jen­ny Kendler’s work focus­es on cli­mate change and bio­di­ver­si­ty loss. Her prac­tice seeks to decen­ter humans and re-enchant our rela­tion­ship to the more-than-human human world. Since 2014, she has been the first Artist-in-Res­i­dence with NRDC, a co-pre­sen­ter of Oth­er of Pearl. Recent exhi­bi­tions of Kendler’s work include Dear Earth at Hay­ward Gallery in Lon­don, UK, Water After All at the MCA Chica­go, Music for Ele­phants at the Smith­son­ian Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry, and Indi­ca­tors: Artists on Cli­mate Change at Storm King Art Center.

Gov­er­nors Island Arts presents its pro­gram with the vision­ary sup­port of the Ford Foun­da­tion, as well the Mel­lon Foun­da­tion, the Cha­ri­na Endow­ment Fund, Don­ald R. Mullen Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion, Stavros Niar­chos Foun­da­tion, Bloomberg Phil­an­thropies, The Gottes­man Fund, Don­ald A. Pels Char­i­ta­ble Trust, the Nation­al Endow­ment for the Arts, and the New York State Coun­cil on the Arts with the sup­port of the Office of the Gov­er­nor and the New York State Leg­is­la­ture. Addi­tion­al sup­port for Oth­er of Pearl is pro­vid­ed by the Rip­ple Foun­da­tion as well as Roseate Jewelry.

Addi­tion­al pro­grams will be announced in the com­ing months. For vis­i­tor hours and more infor­ma­tion, vis­it gov​is​land​.org.


About Gov­er­nors Island Arts

Gov­er­nors Island Arts, the pub­lic arts and cul­tur­al pro­gram pre­sent­ed by the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island, cre­ates trans­for­ma­tive encoun­ters with art for all New York­ers, invit­ing artists and researchers to engage with the issues of our time in the con­text of the Island’s lay­ered his­to­ries, envi­ron­ments, and archi­tec­ture. Gov­er­nors Island Arts achieves this mis­sion through tem­po­rary and long-term pub­lic art com­mis­sions, an annu­al Orga­ni­za­tion in Res­i­dence pro­gram in the Island’s his­toric hous­es, and free pub­lic pro­grams and events in part­ner­ship with a wide range of cross-dis­ci­pli­nary NYC cul­tur­al orga­ni­za­tions. Recent art­works com­mis­sioned by Gov­er­nors Island Arts include projects by Charles Gaines, Sam Van Aken, Duke Riley, Shantell Mar­tin, and Mark Dion; for more infor­ma­tion, vis­it gov​is​land​.org.

About NRDC (Nat­ur­al Resources Defense Council)

NRDC (Nat­ur­al Resources Defense Coun­cil) is an inter­na­tion­al non­prof­it envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion with more than 3 mil­lion mem­bers and online activists. Estab­lished in 1970, NRDC uses sci­ence, pol­i­cy, law, and peo­ple pow­er to con­front the cli­mate cri­sis, pro­tect pub­lic health and safe­guard nature. NRDC has offices in New York City, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Los Ange­les, San Fran­cis­co, Chica­go, Boze­man, MT, Bei­jing, and Del­hi (an office of NRDC India Pvt. Ltd.)