Broadway: 1000 Steps Exhibition // Artists imagine a sustainable city

by Mary Miss


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Much of my career has been dedicated to exposing aspects of the environment, from history to ecology, that have gone unnoticed or underappreciated. My work in landscape and urban spaces has increasingly focused on exploring new ways that artists can work in the public domain and play a more prominent role in bringing attention to important issues of our time. As visual thinkers, artists have the unique ability to help translate abstract and intangible ideas into physical forms and visceral experiences. Collaborating with other experts and citizens, artists can help spread awareness, inspire action, and incite positive social change.

We are at a critical point in history, as our planet faces pressing if not calamitous environmental challenges that need to be addressed.  It is this growing urgency that inspired me to create a framework, City as Living Laboratory: Sustainability Made Tangible Through the Arts, with Marda Kirn of Eco Arts Connection, which explores ways to make sustainability personal, visceral, tangible and encourage action.  BROADWAY: 1000 Steps is a project born of this framework to re-imagine New York’s historic boulevard as the city’s “green corridor”. 

In looking towards a future city – a future that depends on our ability to contend with and find solutions to the environmental challenges we face – I imagine Broadway as a publically accessible testing ground for ideas and initiatives on sustainability. It will be a place to educate residents and visitors on any number of environmental topics through the united efforts and insight of experts, activists, artists and enthusiasts alike. The 1000 Steps installations (planned for Fall 2013 – Spring 2014), events, programs, and digital applications will advance this process of establishing Broadway as a testing ground.

I am coming to you for support of a keynote exhibition to serve as a threshold for the BROADWAY: 1000 Steps project. Held at the Center for Architecture in NYC, this exhibition, Broadway: 1000 Steps: artists imagine a sustainable city, will showcase the process of setting goals, research, testing and planning with the input and participation of a phenomenal network of experts, students, and citizens. It will be an important platform to bring the project to a wider public and lay the foundation for projects with artists and designers in the future.

With development already underway, the exhibition will include:

Examples of the physical and graphic elements that comprise my CaLL “Toolkit”: green poles supporting convex mirrors that reflect site features with short texts, along with recorded narratives, visual quantifications (e.g. amount of drinking water consumed) walkable maps or diagrams, pavement markings -A schematic representation of Broadway noting the issues under-consideration at the planned installation sites -Representations of proposals and research by the over 100 students from regional colleges and universities who were involved in our Spring 2012 Academic Partnership including: City College of New York (CCNY), Parsons New School of Design, Pratt Institute, Marymount Manhattan College, MIT, Boston Architectural College, Penn State University, and the University of Virginia.  Also represented will be the voices of community leaders, local citizens, and the expert scientists that have helped to guide the CaLL team.

The $30,000 that we must raise in the coming weeks will be absolutely critical to supporting all aspects of the exhibition, including design, production, public programs, and a publication with details on the project goals, its development, evolution and the scores of innovative student projects produced through our partnership. This exhibition will be an opportunity to encourage further discussion and collaboration with students and community constituents while inviting others to chime in on the discussion and exchange ideas.  If we’re fortunate enough to exceed our minimum goal, additional funds will be used to continue project development, student research and workshops as well as the ultimate realization of the 1000 Steps installations.  We’re enormously grateful for any support you may lend in helping us reach our goal and hope that you all will attend the show when it’s completed!

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