The Joseloff Gallery is planning an important exhibition of work by internationally renowned artist Mary Miss focusing on environmentalism and sustainability. The exhibition, “Mary Miss: City as Living Laboratory,” puts the Connecticut’s capital city of Hartford in the center center of a site-specific, multi-part installation created by Miss to bring attention to the Park River and its watershed.
The exhibition opens with a reception 5-9 p.m. Thursday, April 21, and runs through Sunday, May 29.
“Eco Art,” an art movement that began in the 1970s, reconnects art with science and politics around such issues as climate change, biodiversity, pollution and water quality. It brings together scientists, artists, engineers and environmentalists to inspire a new way of thinking about the environment. Rather than forcing change through the use of frightening statistics and dry, scientific statements, this encourages thoughtful change through the use of images, performances, art exhibits, and films.
On the forefront of the Eco Art movement, New York-based sculptor Mary Miss has spent years of exploration and research in the development of major environmental art projects. These have culminated in Miss‘s recent creation of a multi-layered initiative titled City as Living Laboratory: Sustainability Made Tangible Through the Arts (or “CaLL”). Developed in collaboration with Marda Kirn of Eco Arts Connections, Miss aims to make issues of sustainability compelling to the public, envisioning the city as a laboratory, where collaboration among planners, scientists, artists and designers can make a city’s sustainability policies tangible to its citizens.
The exhibition in Hartford will draw from a project already under way in Indianapolis. It’s called “FLOW (Can You See The River?)” An implementation of the CaLL framework, FLOW begins with the assumption that “the river starts at your front door — all property is riverfront property.” FLOW seeks to engage citizens and make them aware that local watersheds provide their drinking water and support their lives, and that their actions directly affect the watersheds that surround them. The full FLOW project, commissioned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, will premiere in September along the White River in Indiana.
The Joseloff Gallery will host a Connecticut-based CaLL exhibition, with a site-specific installation based on the Indianapolis FLOW project. This installation will center on the Park River watershed, focusing on the Park River as is makes its way through the campus of the University of Hartford.
A watershed is a geological basin that drains rain, melting snow, and ground water into a downstream watercourse or body of water. Drop by drop, fresh water run-off is channeled into soil, groundwaters, creeks, and streams, making its way to larger rivers, and eventually to coastal waters. Water, a universal solvent, is chemically altered by everything it comes in contact with: the land it traverses and the soils through which it travels. What we do on the land affects the water quality for all communities living downstream from us.
The 77-square mile Park River watershed stretches east through Connecticut from the Metacomet Ridge to the Connecticut River. The north branch of the Park River flows through the campus of the University of Hartford into a buried conduit at Farmington Avenue near the Mark Twain House. The north and south branches of the Park River converge underground and travel beneath Bushnell Park in Hartford before pouring into the Connecticut River.
The Park River FLOW project will include oversized, sculptural map pins set in the land along the University of Hartford’s section of the Park River watershed. These numbered pins will highlight various features along the river that have been identified as areas of interest by a group of local scientists and historians working with Mary Rickel Pelletier, Director of the Park River Watershed Revitalization Initiative. These areas may include sewer outfalls, wetlands, floodplains, parking lots draining into the river, etc. Directional markers will then lead viewers from the river to the Joseloff Gallery, where a large floor map of the University of Hartford’s section of the Park River will be similarly marked and numbered. A key will be printed on the walls of the gallery detailing the features highlighted with the numbered pins. A foldout map will be available, detailing all of the map pins located on campus. Visitors will be encouraged to study the areas highlighted by the Park River FLOW project, and think about what other features in the city and along the river could be marked on the map.
In addition to the site-specific Park River FLOW project, the Joseloff exhibit will present Mary Miss’s CaLL projects in Indiana, on Broadway and Staten Island and in New Dehli, as well as a selection of the historical precedent projects that led Mary Miss to develop her current CaLL initiative.