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Community Arts Spotlight: Breathing Lights NY

Posted on: Aug 9, 2017

At last week's CityLab Baltimore, hosted by the Atlantic in partnership with Bloomberg and the Aspen Institute, attendees attended panels and discussions surrounding solutions to challenges faced by urban communities. In one discussion, participants noted the role of arts and culture in sustaining and revitalizing communities, and drew attention to the Breathing Lights project, one of four $1 million grant winners from Bloomberg Philanthropy's Public Art Challenge. This temporary public art installation is a shining example of how the arts can make a difference in civic issues, and quite literally bring light back into a community.

The Breathing Lights project was born out of collaboration between the mayors of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, NY, alongside artists, organizations, and individuals. It ran from October through November of 2016, with the intention of bringing light and life into the abandoned homes in these three cities.

Image: Buffalo Rising

The project incorperated light technology to illuminate hundreds vacant homes in these New York Communities with a "diffuse glow that mimicked the rhythm of human breathing."

The visual representation of vacancy in the neighborhoods was augmented with eight months of community programs centered around vacant housing When the installation was complete, the lights in each of window became dark, one at a time, demonstrating the emptiness felt by these communities due to so many vacant houses. This powerful public art project created an increased awareness and sense of awareness and community 

For more information about this project, visit the Breathing Lights website, and view the CityLab discussion about the project.