BioArt in the Industrial Wasteland

"Bioart in An Industrial Wasteland," funded by the National Endowment of the Arts, served as a visual metaphor for refiguring abandoned post-industrial sites. The project was situated in a neglected block of post-industrial upstate New York.  In a neighborhood that has seen an exceptional shift in community engagement through arts, the series directly engaged citizens in an exploration that links art, science and technology to develop do-it-yourself ecological ingenuity and collaboration.

"Bio-art” is a contemporary art form that draws on the natural sciences by working with living systems, biological techniques and materials.  Workshops helped build public art installations, helped the community think creatively about ‘curing’ their local ecologies, and asked ethical questions involving environmental health and future developments in such areas as DNA imaging and synthetic biology.

This project aimed to build ties between city dwellers and the environment surrounding them in a series of artist presentations and community workshops that will lay the foundation of an urban nature center in North Troy, NY.


Bioartists came to Troy, NY to engage in community workshops, culminating in artistic presentations. We featured nationally and internationally recognized artists whose creative investigations dealt with issues of sustainability for the welfare of the environment, its inhabitants and the biological future. Bio-artist residents included:

  • Futurefarmers – “Urban Natural Futures,” creating gardens in abandoned lots
  • Oron Catts – “Our Synthetic Futures,” critique of synthetic biology


The project addressed the endemic environmental and public health challenges facing residents of North Central Troy within the framework of an ambitious and exciting series of arts projects which engaged youth and adults alike in an art and science practice. A major focus was creative problem-solving and collective action to address issues already bubbling up in the community:

Improving the infrastructure of our public space, food justice and nutrition education, urban gardening and composting, and creating remedies for envrionmental health.  Situating creative practice at ground zero for the challenges of our times, we created art which explores inheritance of biological systems in a 21st Century landscape.


The project is supported by a $45,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which in a new direction supports hybrid science and arts collaborative projects.