maria thereza alvez


Maria Thereza Alves, A Ballast Flora Garden: Weeksville Heritage Center, 2018. Part of Maria Thereza Alves, Seeds of Change: New York--A Botany of Colonization, co-commissioned by the Vera List Center of Art and Politics at The New School, Pioneer Works, Weeksville Heritage Center, and High Line Art.

A Ballast Flora Garden: Weeksville Heritage Center, opening on May 12th explores Weeksville's history in two ways; its namesake, James Weeks, who worked on docks as a stevedore and the propagation  process of Africans brought to this country, also by boat, to becoming native to the United States.


Weeksville Heritage Center, in collaboration with Vera List Center at The New School, Pioneer Works, and The Highline, welcomes artist Maria Thereza Alves to Brooklyn as she brings her traveling environmental installation, Seeds of Change, to the United States for the first time. Seeds of Change is an ongoing investigation of ballast flora in the port cities of Europe and has been developed for Marseilles, Reposaari, Dunkirk, Exeter/Topsham, Liverpool, Bristol and Antwerp.

Ballast was loaded onto sailing ships to stabilize merchant vessels so that they could sail efficiently. Ballast such as sand, stones, earth, bricks and whatever else was economically expedient/ cheap and easily available would be especially needed with lightweight cargo which could leave the ship floating dangerously above its water-line and therefore liable to capsize or, as a result of uneven distribution of different/variously weighted cargo, cause the ship to tilt to one side.

Along with the ballast which was picked up in any port in the world, seeds accidentally came. Upon arrival in port, the ballast, along with the seeds, was unloaded. The seeds found a new home and some of them grew. The source of these seeds can be any of the ports and regions (and their regional trading partners) involved in trade with Europe. These seeds were not so much hiding in the bottom but coming along for the ride.

History, people and flora align powerfully for this project  Much like the ballast seeds, the residents of historic Weeksville came from all over to put down roots and build an intentional community.  And just as the ballast seeds, they and their descendants grew and flourished.


Special thanks to our sponsors, Con Edison and National Grid for helping us make a Ballast Flora Garden possible.