May 09, 2017

“Breathing Lights announces featured art projects”

Date published: 06/19/2016
Publication: Troy Record

By [email protected],, @troyrecord on Twitter
POSTED: 06/19/16, 1:31 PM EDT | UPDATED: ON 06/19/2016

ALBANY >> Several Troy-based artists were selected for recognition through an innovative regional project that annually illuminates vacant buildings around the three major cities of the Capital Region.

Breathing Lights will light up hundreds of vacant buildings in Albany, Schenectady and Troy nightly in October and September to spark community conversations around the issues of vacant buildings and community revitalization. Through its Community Arts Awards program, though, organizers aim to “magnify the stories of residents who live around the breathing lights and focus attention on the region’s urban landscape,” according to a news release announcing the eight projects to be recognized.

Breathing Lights and its community hub partners, the Albany Barn, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady, and The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, chose the eight winning projects from more than 55 entries submitted by artists from the region and beyond. These works will debut in October, at the same time as the debut of the Breathing Lights installations.

“Congratulations to the selected artists, who will expand public dialogue and engagement with the Breathing Lights audience through these inspiring artworks,” said Branda Miller, arts in education director for Breathing Lights, who led the selection process. “The creativity and diversity of submissions was amazing. We sincerely hope that Breathing Lights drives an expansion and awareness of the incredible artistic talent in this region.”

The projects selected for recognition are:

• Troy-based poets and performers Nancy Klepsch and Danielle Colin Charlestin will coordinate and perform “Breathing These Words,” a popup poetry project that will involve poetry readings at vacant buildings connected to Breathing Lights, as well as community-based instruction for students and seniors. The project will also include scattered site readings by poets and writers whose work has been curated from local open mics.

• Local artist Ira Marcks of Troy and graphic designer Caroline Corrigan of Albany will produce an illustrative exploration of the world in and around Breathing Lights. Using illustration and type, they will create a free print piece that offers a look behind the scenes of Breathing Lights and tells the stories of some of the vacant homes it will illuminate.

• Brooklyn artists Rachel Falcone and Michael Premo will produce “28th Amendment,” the latest installment of Housing is a Human Right, their creative storytelling project that, since 2009, aims to connect diverse communities around housing, land and the dignity of a place to call home. Neighborhood stories will be recorded in the tradition of oral history and shared as audio stories, photographs and multimedia presentations.

• Regional artist DeWitt Godfrey will create a site-specific sculpture at or near a property illuminated by Breathing Lights, ideally in a vacant lot between two homes. Godfrey is interested in the role arts can play in community and how innovative public art with unusual form in expected and unexpected locations can help to re-experience the familiar and reevaluate peoples’ place in the urban environment.

• AVillage, Inc., in partnership with Trinity Alliance, will conduct a community mosaic workshop with local artist Jillian Hirsch at a memory garden being developed at 15 Trinity Place in Albany. The garden will commemorate the lives of those lost to gun violence. Hirsch will train community residents and volunteers in mosaic-making techniques so they can create small projects throughout Albany’s South End neighborhood, culminating in a mosaic village on or near properties that Breathing Lights will illuminate.

• Artist Brenda Ann Kenneally will produce Story Candles, a 16-foot cargo trailer transformed into a participatory travelling installation that will honor children from the Breathing Lights communities whose lives ended too soon. The “memory bank” will be a collection of words, pictures and audio reflections culled from the community and used to create an open-ended collage that will keep the stories of these young people alive.

• Local playwright Michael Kennedy will write an original script and produce “SRO: Single Room Occupancy,” a play set in a single-room occupancy home in downtown Albany. The script will follow three residents as they struggle to avoid homelessness, keep the support they receive and work toward improving their lives. Playback Theater, where audience members may share personal experiences and see them transformed into theater, in the moment, will follow the play.

• Albany-based visual storyteller and entrepreneur Jamel Mosely will produce “ARBOR HILLSTORY,” a photo and video work documenting the stories of people who are longtime residents and staples of Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood. Mosley’s work is dedicated to advocating a creative economy that will create jobs and provide equity to underserved communities.

The Community Arts Awards are part of Breathing Lights’ extensive neighborhood engagement program. Chosen projects demonstrated artistic excellence, the potential to enhance public dialogue and the ability to expand and diversify the Breathing Lights audience.

Breathing Lights has brought together more than 35 community and private-sector partners, with the fall installations to be followed in spring 2017 by a regional summit on vacancy and neighborhood revitalization that will include local residents, prospective investors and policy makers. Breathing Lights was selected in June 2015 as one of four temporary public art projects from across the United States to receive a grant award from the first-ever Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge.

For more information on the program visit or follow the group on Facebook at, Instagram at or Twitter at

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