Braided Channel: Stacy Levy

Braided Channel: Stacy Levy

Braided ChannelWe are thrilled to present the 2018 Henry Meigs Environmental Leadership Award, our highest honor, to renowned environmental artist and sculptor Stacy Levy. Linking art with science, Levy harnesses ephemeral changes in nature with the lasting presence of sculpture. Rather than simply showing how nature works, Levy has also created and built many projects that solve environmental issues on the site.

Levy is the first artist to receive the Meigs Award. Levy is a distinguished sculptor whose work has broken new ground in linking the worlds of art and science. She uses the language of landscape and art to tell the ecological story of site, and her projects reveal the sometimes hidden natural world in the urban environment. Stacy works closely with landscape architects, engineers, horticulturalists, hydrologists and biologists to create artworks that allow natural systems, like the infiltration of rainwater, to function and thrive. From rivers to runoff, Levy has explored many facets of water along with other ecological subjects.

Through a lyrical approach to natural science, Levy blends an understanding of sustainable design and ecological concepts and harnesses the ephemeral changes of weather and seasons with the lasting presence of sculpture. Rather than simply showing how nature works, Levy has also created and built many projects that solve environmental issues on the site. In addition to her site-based work, Levy has shown extensively at museums and galleries. A native of Philadelphia, she has developed work across the country and internationally. The Schuylkill Center’s art program has worked with Levy a number of times; most recently, Levy created Rain Yard, an innovative outdoor artwork which manages the stormwater runoff from our Visitor Center’s roof.

Stacy Levy Rain Yard

Stacy Levy Rain Yard

Braided Channel celebrates Levy’s career to date and presents a new extension of her community-based water work. The gallery features moving image documentation of a sampling of Levy’s site-based works. Documentation is often a challenge for these works, which are ever-changing in response to environmental conditions, and activated in new ways over time by the presence and participation of people and nature. How alive these works are is often difficult to capture in a gallery setting, with still images serving as a very limited translation of the experience of a site. For this exhibition, Levy has developed short, gestural videos that offer dynamic views of these site-based works brought indoors. They offer windows into the places where a selection of Levy’s works are living out into the world.

Braided Channel

Braided Channel

Braided Channel

In the Schuylkill Center gallery, Levy has developed a new iteration of a body of work that engages community members in gathering water samples along the full length of local waterways. The visual display of these samples invites reflection on what is seen and unseen in water quality. For the Schuylkill Center, Levy instigated a gathering of water along the length of the two streams on the our grounds (Smith Run and Meigs Run), displayed in a library of local water specimens. Starting from the headwaters near Hagy’s Mill road and ending near the Schuylkill River Trail, teams of staff and volunteers walked along the stream channels grabbing a sample every 80 feet. This cabinet of water provides one way of looking at a small watershed comprehensively. Notably, Smith Run and Meigs run are named for two of the founding families of the Schuylkill Center, which include the namesake of the Meigs award.
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Braided Channel

Braided Channel

Braided Channel

Braided Channel

Braided Channel

Braided Channel

Braided Channel

For her exceptional work in art; the elegance with which her work reveals ecological processes that otherwise may go unnoticed; her pioneering approach to working not just in, but with nature; and her spirit of collaboration and uncanny ability to galvanize community members and specialists across disciplines; celebrating Levy with the Meigs award and a gallery of her work is a fitting way to conclude the Schuylkill Center’s 2018 Year of Water.
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Levy  graduated from Yale University in 1984 with a BA in sculpture and forestry. She received her MFA in 1991 from the Tyler School of Art. She spent a year at the Architectural Association in London, England. In 1992 she was awarded a Pew Fellowship, and has been a recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship and a Mid-Atlantic Foundation grant.
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https://www.stacylevy.com/