Sandy Ground is a multi-media installation of sound, sculpture, and cyanotype prints based on the history of an oystering community in Staten Island, New York.
In the early 1800’s a number of newly freed slaves, mostly from the Eastern Shores of Virginia and Maryland settled in Sandy Ground. They came to escape the increasingly oppressive laws and hostility of the South. Although Staten Island (then known as Richmond County) had plantations sustained by the labor of black slaves, a 1799 New York state law granted freedom to the slaves who were born after that year. Those already enslaved were not freed until 1827.
In the early 1900’s the oyster beds were closed because of pollution from New York and New Jersey, which forced the oystermen to seek other kinds of employment in neighboring towns and states. All that remained in 1994 of the once prosperous community is an old church and cemetery surrounded by a few abandoned houses.