LandLab is an environmental art residency at the Schuylkill Center which interweaves art, ecological restoration, and public engagement. LandLab offers resources (including an honorarium of $6,000) and space on the Center’s 340-acre wooded property. Selected artist(s) or teams create innovative, site-specific installation(s) or performative artwork(s) that remediate environmental damage while engaging audiences in ecological processes. Outcomes are open-ended, but residency projects must include public engagement with residents throughout the region.

The 2022-2023 LandLab residents are part of the Schuylkill Center’s “Year of Restoration,” which emphasizes humanity’s entanglement with nature and embraces nature’s restorative and healing powers. Breaking away from the historically established binaries of ‘pristine’ and ‘wild,’ The Schuylkill Center celebrates a dynamic model of restoration based on adapting to a changing climate, informed by ways ecological conservation is intertwined with social realities. 

The 2022-2023 LandLab Residency is kindly supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

 

2023-2023 Artists in Residence

Amber Officer-Narvasa and Yilu Jin

Through natural dyeing, textiles, and creative data visualization, the artists will explore the complex interrelationship between bureaucracy and governance on the Schuylkill River landscape, delving into the narratives of environmental racism, bureaucracy, and resilience that have shaped and co-created the landscape. The artist team seeks to chart a story of the river as it has been co-created by paperwork, plant life, and ecological relation. 

Using legal documents, they will research what has shaped the riverine landscape of the Schuylkill River. In response, they will create natural dyes from plants and organic matter around the river and transform them into a series of large-scale textiles for an outdoor installation. These works will be mounted on trees, branches, and shrubs surrounding the center, inviting viewers to partake in an embodied relational process with the landscape. The project will result in community workshops, a zine featuring dye recipes, workshop documentation, and narrative-based infographics about the Schuylkill River watershed.

Their exhibit will take place in Spring 2023.

Susan Hagen

Susan Hagen will create a series of miniature dioramas on the history of ornithology and bird biodiversity installed on a touring trail in our urban forest. Her outdoor art installation and accompanying pedagogical display in our visitor center’s art gallery will interweave the Center’s educational stewardship towards restoring wildlife habitats in an urban forest and connecting neighboring communities with their local environment. The site-specific installation will visualize the current conservation problem of human impact on species loss exemplified by declining bird biodiversity contextualized throughout the history of ornithology.

Hagen’s work is based on extensive research, conversations, drawings of taxidermy bird specimens, live examples, and historical artifacts. She will capture species living and migrating through our forest, study bird patterns and bird history at the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Wagner Free Institute of Science in Philadelphia, interview ornithologists, bird migration specialists, and wildlife experts, and speak with birders/bird activists in the region.

Her exhibit will take place in Fall 2023.

More about past projects HERE

Contact

Please reach out with any inquiries to art@schuylkillcenter.org

Remembering Water's Way Performance, October 2018

FAQ

How much of the project is expected to be determined ahead of time as opposed to emerging organically from time spent onsite during the residency?

While it’s ideal that you have some grounding idea of the project that you want to do, we do value the time you spend onsite and encourage you to lean into the idea of a “laboratory.” You can use the time to test an artistic hypothesis of a sort; you can course-correct as you uncover new information and ideas; the final product does not need to match 100% what you imagined at the beginning.

How can artists gain a better understanding of what ecological issues are relevant to the Schuylkill Center and therefore could be addressed in the work?

The best way to gain an understanding of our grounds is to come visit us, if possible. While you are welcome to talk to any of our educators or land and facilities staff, weThe best way to gain an understanding of our grounds is to come visit us, if possible. While you are welcome to talk to any of our educators or land and facilities staff, we also value the unique perspective that artists can bring to a site. If you have an understanding of widespread ecological issues such as deforestation, non-native species, erosion, and water pollution, you will likely be able to connect them readily with The Schuylkill Center.

Some of the past projects have seemed more social; are artists supposed to address both ecological and social remediation or choose one or the other?

Given the limited amount of time and resources and the desire for a final outcome, we suggest you choose one of the two to focus on—though they are, of course, related. For this residency we also expect some sort of public community engagement.

How do artists connect with scientists to consult with?

The Schuylkill Center is well connected within the environmental science community and the chosen artist(s) can be connected with any number of local scientists, in addition to our own staff. Please share in your application any ideas, preferences or even connections you may have already.

How many artists will be chosen? How far along in their career should they be?

For this iteration of LandLab, we only have funding for one artist or artist team, and they can be at any point in their career, emerging or established, professional or not. 

How long will the artists spend on site?

The residency can start as early as August 2022 and the final outcome is expected by spring of 2023. The chosen artist(s) is encouraged to spend as much time on site during that window as possible and necessary for understanding the project undertaken.

Are artists permitted to harvest plants onsite?

Yes, but under the supervision of one of our staff members. Please talk with us about what and how much.