In October and November 2016, nightly from 6pm – 10pm, Breathing Lights illuminated the windows of hundreds of vacant buildings in Albany, Schenectady and Troy. Warm light filled each window with a diffuse glow that mimicked the gentle rhythm of human breathing. Concentrated in neighborhoods with high levels of vacancy, Breathing Lights transformed abandoned structures from pockets of shadows into places of warmth. Breathing Lights was a winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge which engages mayors to collaborate with artists on developing innovative public art projects that enrich communities and attract visitors.
Programming and events were designed to give voice to children and adults living in communities with high rates of vacancy and to offer resources for local residents to buy and renovate vacant homes. Through youth media projects, building reclamation clinics, community arts presentations, gallery talks, policy discussions and more, Breathing Lights’ goal was to create an evocative, inclusive experience that transformed perceptions of vacant buildings and showcased an arts-based approach to stimulating local and regional revitalization.
This unprecedented, multi-city installation transformed public streets into an evocative experience and provided a platform to reinvigorate partners around the Capital Region’s most visible symptom of decades of disinvestment. Working with dozens of community and private-sector partners, Breathing Lights included eight months of programming and events, including youth media projects, building reclamation clinics, community arts presentations, gallery talks, policy discussions and more. At the end of the installation, windows – one by one – fell dark. In sharing a sense of loss came a stir to action.
About the artist
Adam Frenlin uses art to insert emblematic moments into everyday life. In his artwork, these moments often take place at points where the natural and constructed worlds intersect. He has shown widely across the nation and has received numerous awards and residencies both here and abroad. He has published two books of photography and has had several artworks commissioned throughout the world. Frelin received a BFA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and an MFA from University of California, San Diego. Currently he is an Associate Professor of art at the SUNY University at Albany, and lives in Troy, NY. www.adamfrelin.com