We see both art and science as ways to understand the world. We found ourselves in a hotbed of attack on both fields, and how art and science could be combined to realize our mission and the struggle for social and environmental justice and freedom of expression.
Check out this article by one of our funders, the Preservation League of NYS, and their focus on the intersection of art, media and science: The Sanctuary for Independent Media: Where Social Justice, Science and Art Meet — Preservation League of NYS.
Background in Video Art
The Sanctuary’s story is connected to the early history of video art and alternative use of media technology tools. The invention and mass marketing of the “portapak” shifted the power of the media delivery system, with tools getting into the public’s hands. Collectives of artists, including the racial justice, feminist, LGBTQ movements, broke through the past’s 2-way delivery system to experiment with alternative narratives to the mainstream mass media.
Our non profit organization Media Alliance began, long before the internet, with the goal to network independent media makers across New York State. Founders of the Sanctuary include several professors from the Arts Department at RPI, and we have a history of collaboration presenting cutting edge media artists with the iEAR Presents! series. From the beginning, the Sanctuary has been presenting high quality media art work that connects art and politics and outside of mainstream venues.
Background in Community Media
The history of community media is profoundly influenced by the revolutionary liberation movements of the 60s, part of a very rich intellectual activist tradition that we keep connecting to in our programming today.
The Sanctuary’s roots to converging threads of community media activism came out of the video arts community as well as community radio history. We have a thriving Radio Initiative, with 3 low-power FM stations. We are a Pacifica Affiliate, and part of a history of community media that goes back to the 1940’s origin with founder Lew Hill dedication to using media for peace activism with KPFA, freed from corporate influences — which grew into a network of 5 stations which during the Viet Nam era was a critical way to get information out about the war.
We are also part of the Low-Power FM movement, which grew out of the community radio activism. There was a civil disobedience movement in the 1990s which turbo-charged the Low-Power FM movement, with “radio pirates” broadcasting without FCC license. This was a booming movement for freedom of expression across the country — and inspiration our Sanctuary radio consortium today.
Funding the the late 60’s and after were important to the legacy of the Sanctuary, coming out of a “gift economy” including support from MacCarthur Foundation, Rockefeller, NYSCA, National Endowment for the Arts. We are mindful of how this funding has shifted in the 21st century, as we explore different models for support.
It has been a real struggle for us to map out our path, structuring our grants to build infrastructure and resources in our local community to strive for freedom of expression.
We grew through a series of arts funding to build the Sanctuary and campus, evolving towards more interdisciplinary work that included sciences into the arts. This support helped to bring focus through participatory community engagement to our long-neglected neighborhood in North Central Troy at the Northern tip of the Hudson River Estuary and the beginning of the Erie Canal, and a growing understanding of the ways that arts can communicate social and environmental justice issues.
- 2008 NY State Music Fund, “Free Jazz from the Sanctuary”
- 2012 NEA Creative Placemaking grant: “Our Town “Found Art in North Troy”
- Freedom Square Art Stage with Isaiah Zagar, “Making of Freedom Square”
- 2013 NEA “Bioart in an Industrial Wasteland”
- Natalie Jeremenjenko, Brandon Ballengée and Oliver Kellhammer
- 2016 NEA ArtWorks, Urban Art Reclamations: Our Upper Hudson River Heritage
- Kenneally created a living, learning museum to preserve the history of families in our neighborhood, “North Troy People’s History Museum.”
- Kellhammer’s “Brownfieldlandia” was a botanical interventions remediating contaminated soil with hyper-accumulating weed plantings, DIT kits, soil detox garden sculptures.
- 2017, NEA Artworks, “Bioart Futures and (Forgotten) Urban Ecologies”
- This proposal supported a series of artist residencies presenting contemporary art working with living systems, sustainable practices, and using biological techniques and materials. This project designed to continue our program NATURE Lab and our citizen science laboratory, connecting artists to issues around the natural sciences, and using the arts to create critical knowledge and skills in this neighborhood. 01/01/2018 – 12/31/2019
- Leila Nadir Cary 3eppermint/EcoArtTech In this residency entitled )eral FermentationSchool of Live Culture,
- Heather Dewey-Hagborg, “Who Do You Think You Are”
- Ellie Irons and Anne Percoco In “Adopt-a-:Seed” Seed Viability Testing with NESL (Next Epoch Seed Library), ́ Irons
The youth at Uptown Summer 2018 put together a time capsule of seeds in collaboration with Next Epoch Seed Library. Together, we collected plant seeds likely to survive the unpredictable future, and buried them at the future sight of the NATURE Lab in North Troy.
Seed Time Capsule from Uptown Summer 2018
- 2017, NYSCA REDC Canal Youth Media
- 2017, NEA “Echoes from Lock One”
- 2017, NEA Artworks, “NATURE Lab Art Trail”
- 2018-19, Tides Foundation, “Hudson Mohawk Radio Network: Low Power to the People,” building out radio stations
- 2019, NEA Artworks, “Art and Ecology in the Spirit of the Suffragettes”
- 2021, NEA “Art and Ecology: In the Spirit of the Suffragettes” Mae-Ling Lokko’s Mycelial Tile workshop: (https://www.mediasanctuary.org/event/art-and-ecology-in-the-spirit-of-the-suffragettes-mycelial-tiles-workshop-with-mae-ling-lokko/
- 2022-24 NEA Our Town, Sanctuary Eco-Art Trail, work in progress. Check out Sanctuary Eco-Art Work Sample
And, we leveraged these arts grants to inspire new funding sources from environmental organizations:
- 2015 DEC Hudson River Estuary Grants for River Access and River Education Round 17. “Troy Citizen Science Center: Teaching Stewardship of Our Hudson”
- 2018 DEC Environmental Justice Program, “Germinating NATURE Lab Environmental Education Center
- 2016 DEC Environmental Justice Program, “Environmental Stewards of North Troy”
- 2022 Hudson River Estuary Grant, Nature’s Computer Lab: A Virtual Canal from the Estuary to the Classroom
- 2022, DEC Environmental Justice Community Impact Grant, “Nurturing the NATURE Lab”