NEA Artist in Residence

Art and Ecology: In the Spirit of the Suffragettes”

Mae-Ling Lokko, an artist and architect who lives between Ghana and U.S., focuses on upcycling. She transforms materials considered waste into building materials. Lokko will work with community to create a participatory art project that will realize mycelial tiles for the People’s Health Sanctuary, the upstairs space in NATURE Lab.

“Art and Ecology: In the Spirit of the Suffragettes”

Art and Ecology: In the Spirit of the Suffragettes is a NATURE Lab Residency program for women artists representing a diversity of races and cultures. We’ll bring history alive through the trans-disciplinary field of bio-art. Integrating art and biology, installation and multimedia, visual arts and performance, these new forms of artistic expression pose ethical, social and philosophical questions about our rapidly changing ecosystem. Positioning the suffragettes as important role models to explore the devastating effects of gender, racial and economic bias on our biodiversity and ecosystems, the artists offer creative calls to action for ecological justice and survival of Mother Earth. 

Women artists and artists of color continue to face pervasive under-representation in museums and galleries. This project is in protest of this discrimination–even the new field of bio-arts is male-dominated. We will showcase world-class artists who demonstrate the present-day creative power of women working together to overcome great odds. The century-old suffragette message needs to be heard: women bear the brunt of economic inequality and ecological devastation. These residencies will give voice to inequities, and our struggle for the environmental health of our community and wide world.

Through intersections of art, science and social practice, each artist will develop a project to advance research, produce creative content, and help our surrounding community. Opportunities include creating public art, workshops and/or presentations and exhibitions, producing video and radio productions, designing art walks and bio-art curricular resources. 

These residencies will inaugurate our new NATURE Lab Urban Environmental Arts & Education Center.


Mae-ling Lokko is an architectural scientist and building technology researcher from Ghana and the Philippines whose work centers on the upcycling of agrowaste and biopolymer materials into high performance clean building material systems for humidity control, indoor air quality remediation and water quality control applications. Lokko holds a Ph.D. and Masters of Science in Architectural Science from the Center from Architecture, Science and Ecology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and B.A from Tufts University. Her research integrates a broad range of technical, environmental, social and cultural criteria that questions contemporary material-value systems, codevelops business models for upcycling between the Global North and South and evolves material life cycle design criteria to meet generative justice criteria. Lokko teaches on seminars on energy and ecology in relation to the built environment, upcycling and ecoeffective material life cycle design both at the SoA and at the Center for Architecture, Science and Ecology in Industry City, Brooklyn.

Lokko is the founder of Willow Technologies, Ltd. based in Accra, Ghana that upcycles agrowaste into affordable biobased building materials and for water quality treatment applications. Her work was nominated for the Visible Award 2019, Royal Academy Dorfman Award 2020 and she was a finalist for the Hublot Design Prize 2019. Lokko’s recent projects has exhibited globally at the Serpentine Gallery, London (2019), Radialsystem, Berlin (2019), Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (2019), Luma Foundation, Arles (2019), 4th Istanbul Design Biennial (2018), Rhode Island School of Design (2018), Royal Institute of British Architects-North as part of the Liverpool Biennial 2018 and at the Mmofra Foundation, Accra (2017-present). In 2020, her work will be exhibited at Somerset House, London and as part of Sonsbeek Biennial 2020, Netherlands.


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About The Sanctuary

We use art and participatory action to promote social and environmental justice and freedom of creative expression.

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