I was awarded a MASS MoCA artist residency in April 2016. I used the opportunity to test a creative approach to art-based community engagement. As part of the residency, I interviewed a diverse group of stakeholders including local residents, community groups, scientists, and other creative minds engaged with the Hoosic River. I then created drawings to communicate the ongoing local narrative of the Hoosic River’s urban ecology. The series of digital prints were made by combining photography of iconic Hoosic River views with suggestions for art installations. These proposed installations are community memorial, testament, critique, and celebration of the Hoosic River. The site-responsive works address issues of river ecology, access, recreation, water quality, infrastructure, as well as cultural history, practice, and future.
Conceptualized as the Hoosic Expedition, in aggregate the installation proposals form a speculative art trail along the channelized sections of the river. The goal of this two-week project was not to build an art walk, but to use the process of imagining art installations as a engaging form of public outreach. The stakeholder-driven conceptual designs are intended to highlight diverse cultural and ecological issues at play in North Adams and ultimately promote a constructive public dialogue about the community stewardship of the river.
Special thanks to folks from the Hoosic River Revival, Williams College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, MASS MoCA, and Sasaki Associates for sharing their insight, research, and passion.
Project Update: As a result of the Hoosic River Expedition project, I partnered with the Hoosic River Revival (HRR), a local non-profit group with a vision of re-establishing the Hoosic River as the heart of North Adams’ community. In support of the HRR mission we created a series of large-format flags to be used as temporary installations along the river. The durable canvas flags were designed as a tactical communication tool that could scale according to HRR’s needs. The project was funded by a Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s Berkshire Environmental Endowment Grant.