Inside Rensselaer
Volume 7, No. 11, June 14, 2013
   
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Kathy High

Kathy High
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Bringing Bio-Art to North Troy

A new arts project aims to build ties between city dwellers and the environment that surrounds them. Working with The Sanctuary for Independent Media in North Troy, Kathy High, professor of arts, will be developing “Bio-Art in an Industrial Wasteland,” a series of artist presentations and community workshops that will lay the foundation of an urban nature center.

Each of the presentations and workshops will draw on “bio-art,” a contemporary art form that engages the natural sciences by working with living systems, biological techniques, and materials.

“By looking at the environment through the lens of these artists and their works, we hope to bring about our environment and how we exist in it,” said High. “I want to inspire a broad community—RPI, Troy, and the Capital Region—to develop an urban nature center where we will be able to develop a think-tank about ecological challenges. The project will encourage sustained conversations about environmental justice and the problems that we’re facing—within our communities, our local ecosystems, and our bodies.”

The project is supported by a $45,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). High said the “Bio-Art in an Industrial Wasteland” represents a new direction for the NEA, which is now bringing support specifically to hybrid science and arts collaborative projects.

The first presentation/workshop, titled Urban Infrastructures for Non-Humans, with artist Natalie Jerome Jeremijenko, is scheduled for July 17-19, on Glen Avenue between River Street and 6th Avenue in North Troy. Jeremijenko will lead the community to begin building a public art sculpture called Butterfly Bridge. The bridge will demonstrate possibilities of re-imagining our urban infrastructure, and guide us toward a bio-diverse ecosystem—one upon which our own health critically depends. A “Moth Cinema” will be integrated into the structure, revealing the nightly dramas of love, survival, and the fluttering lifestyles of the dark and mysterious.

The workshop is in collaboration with “Found Art in North Troy” during Uptown Summer, a five-week series of public arts workshops designed to enhance livability through creative place-making. “Bio-Art in an Industrial Wasteland” and “Found Art in North Troy” are funded by the NEA, with additional support from the New York State Council on the Arts, community organizations, and volunteers.

“This project introduces the community to an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving with a really strong arts and science component,” said High. “The project builds upon a growing momentum on a block of Troy—6th Avenue between 101st Street and Glen Avenue—that has suffered decades of neglect. The block is now home to a series of community organizations, including The Sanctuary for Independent Media, Missing Link Street Missionary, Collard City Growers, and Troy Bike Rescue, as well as social networks and religious and community groups.

“This is one of the most economically challenged areas in Troy and these projects are bringing new life—including the community of RPI—into this area,” said High. “It’s exciting that we can all be a part of the growth in this community.”

 

 

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 7, Number 11, June 14, 2013
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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