Breathing Lights, one of four winners of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, will illuminate hundreds of vacant buildings in Albany, Schenectady and Troy nightly in October and November 2016. Breathing Lights will transform public streets into an evocative experience with the goal of sparking community conversation around the issues of vacancy and community revitalization. This unprecedented installation will be supported by eight months of programming and events across three cities.
Today, Breathing Lights and its community hub partners, the Albany Barn, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady, and The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, announced the winners of Breathing Lights’ Community Arts Awards. Eight Community Arts Award projects were selected from more than 55 entries submitted by artists from the Capital Region and beyond. These artworks will debut in October 2016, at the same time as the start of the Breathing Lights installation in neighborhoods in the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy.
Breathing Lights’ Arts in Education Director Branda Miller, who led the proposal and selection process, said, “Congratulations to the selected artists, who will expand public dialogue and engagement with the Breathing Lights audience through these inspiring artworks. The creativity and diversity of submissions was amazing. We sincerely hope that Breathing Lights drives an expansion and awareness of the incredible artistic talent in this region.”
The Community Arts Awards are part of Breathing Lights’ extensive neighborhood engagement program. These efforts, led by nonprofit community hubs, will magnify the stories of residents who live around the breathing lights and focus attention on the region’s urban landscape. A diverse committee of arts and community stakeholders in each city selected the winners. Chosen projects demonstrate artistic excellence, the potential to deepen engagement through public dialogue, and the ability to expand and diversify the Breathing Lights audience. They will be led by a lead artist or artists with a proven track record of producing high quality projects.
• Brooklyn-based artists Rachel Falcone and Michael Premo will produce “28th Amendment,” the latest installment of Housing is a Human Right, their creative storytelling project that, since 2009, aims to connect diverse communities around housing, land, and the dignity of a place to call home. Neighborhood stories will be recorded in sound in the tradition of oral history and shared as audio stories, photographs and multimedia. Site to be determined.
• Regional artist DeWitt Godfrey will create a site-specific sculpture or near a property illuminated by Breathing Lights, ideally in a vacant lot between two residential homes. Godfrey is interested in the role arts can play in community and how innovative public art with unusual form in expected and unexpected locations can help us re-experience the familiar and reevaluate our place in the urban environment. Site to be determined.
• AVillage, Inc., in partnership with Trinity Alliance, will conduct a community mosaic workshop with local artist Jillian Hirsch at a memory garden being developed at 15 Trinity Place in Albany. The garden will commemorate the lives of those lost to gun violence. Hirsch will train community residents and volunteers in mosaic making techniques so they can create small mosaic projects throughout Albany’s South End neighborhood, culminating in a “mosaic village” on or near properties that Breathing Lights will illuminate.
• Artist Brenda Ann Kenneally will produce Story Candles, a 16‐foot cargo trailer transformed into a participatory travelling installation that will honor the children from the Breathing Lights communities whose lives have ended too soon. The “memory bank” will be a collection of words, pictures and audio reflections culled from the community and used to create an open-ended collage that will keep the stories of these young people alive.
• Local playwright Michael Kennedy will write an original script and produce SRO: Single Room Occupancy, a play set in a single room occupancy (SRO) in downtown Albany. Her script will follow three residents as they struggle to avoid homelessness, keep the support they receive and work toward improving their lives. Playback Theater, where audience members may share personal experiences and see them transformed into theater, in the moment, will follow the play.
• Troy‐based poets and performers, Nancy Klepsch and Danielle Colin Charlestin, will coordinate and perform Breathing These Words, a pop‐up poetry project that will involve poetry readings at vacant buildings connected to Breathing Lights, as well as community‐based instruction for students and seniors. The project will also include scattered site poetry readings of poets and writers whose work has been curated from writers from local open mics.
• Local artist Ira Marcks (Troy) and graphic designer Caroline Corrigan (Albany) will produce an illustrative exploration of the world in and around Breathing Lights. Using illustration and type they will create a free print piece that offers a look behind the scenes of Breathing Lights and tells the stories of some of the vacant homes it will illuminate.
• Albany-based visual storyteller and entrepreneur, Jamel Mosely, will produce ARBOR HILLSTORY, a photo and video work documenting the stories of the people who are longtime residents and staples of Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood. Mosley’s work is dedicated to advocating a creative economy that will create jobs and provide equity to underserved communities.
ARTISTS: Rachel Falcone and Michael Premo, DeWitt Godfrey, Jillian Hirsch, Brenda Ann Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Nancy Klepsch and Danielle Colin Charlestin, Ira Marcks and Caroline Corrigan, and Jamel Mosely.
PUBLIC RECEPTION AND VIEWING: Details about public receptions, openings, events and performances for Community Art Awards projects will be announced in September with the full calendar of Breathing Lights events.
ABOUT BREATHING LIGHTS
Conceived by lead artist and University of Albany art professor Adam Frelin and lead architect Barbara Nelson, AIA, of TAP, Inc., Breathing Lights has brought together more than 35 community and private sector partners. After the fall installation the project will culminate in spring 2017 with a regional summit on vacancy and neighborhood revitalization that will engage local residents, prospective buyers and investors, and policy makers. Breathing Lights was selected in June 2015 as one of four temporary public art projects from across the United States to receive a grant award from the first-ever Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Other winning cities are Gary, IN, Spartanburg, SC and Los Angeles, CA. Full information on all projects can be found at Publicartchallenge.bloomberg.org.
Lead local support provided by GE, KeyBank, MVP Health Care, the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region as fiscal agent, and WMHT as media partner. Additional support provided by Albany Medical Center, architecture+, BBL Construction Services, Bender Family Foundation, Chet and Karen Olpalka, McCarthy Charities, Michaelson Family Fund, Nigro Companies, Paul and Alane Hohenberg Fund, Robert and Naomi Ingalls Fund, Schenectady Foundation, Standish Family Fund, Tri City Rentals, The Troy Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, and the University at Albany Foundation.
ABOUT THE UPSTATE ALLIANCE FOR THE CREATIVE ECONOMY
The region’s Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy (ACE) is a community‐selected assembly of Capital Region leaders working on behalf of the region’s creative economy. This project operates under the leadership of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region. Created in 2013, ACE is engaged in assessing our region’s creative assets and developing ways to leverage related economic development opportunities. This community-based, cross-sector collaborative initiative provides networking and training opportunities for individuals and organizations involved in the greater Capital Region’s creative sector, as well as broader initiatives bringing together municipalities, for-profit and nonprofit organizations, and other stakeholders. The project activities span Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties. For more information, visit UpstateCreative.org.
ABOUT BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.
**High-res Breathing Lights images: http://tinyurl.com/BLImages (Photo credit Hyers + Mebane).**