Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, NY

Breathing Lights wraps up with program at Proctors

Casey Seiler, right, leads a panel discussion on the Breathing Lights public art program Friday at Proctors in Schenectady. Panelists were, from left, Anita Contini of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Troy Mayor Patrick Madden, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.
[Lindsay Moran/The Record]
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. >> Although the Breathing Lights public art installation celebrated its finale Friday afternoon at Proctors Theatre, those involved are hopeful that the project’s impact will continue to breathe new life into the Capital Region.

The mayors of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, as well as instrumental organizers and contributors to Breathing Lights, gathered at the venue to bring the installation to a close and present a summary of their findings with attendees.

After receiving a $1 million grant through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge in June 2015, artists in the Capital Region worked through the Breathing Lights project to light the windows of hundreds of vacant homes and buildings spanning across Albany, Schenectady, and Troy. The idea began in 2014 and combined the efforts of local artists, city officials, and supporting organizations. The public art exhibit launched two years later and was on display during fall 2016. It utilized 1,500 windows to shed light on the growing number of blighted properties in urban communities, using a diffused glow to mimic the rhythm of human breathing.

Breathing Lights project director Judie Gilmore presented a brief findings report of the installation, and said the full detailed report will be released next month.

Information about the project reached 20.2 million people through social media impressions, and 271.9 million through media coverage about the art installation. More than half of the audience that found the installation’s website were younger than 34-years-old.

“Young people are hungry to want to see innovative solutions,” said Gilmore. “They want to see how cities are dealing with the issues that they see as city-dwellers.”

Artists invested countless hours to ensure even the smallest of details in every display were perfected, according to Gilmore. Adam Frelin, who served as the lead artist for the project, even stood outside houses and asked the opinions of passers-by when the lighting systems were first put to the test.

“This is probably the most exciting project of my life,” said Frelin, who is also a professor at the University at Albany. “It taught me to be an active community member, and really required me to take on a role that I hadn’t before.”

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