School of Art, Media, and Technology

Faculty and Students Share in a Hands-On Learning Lab at Proteus Gowanus – Opening 3/22

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“Thirst,” an exhibition and month-long participatory laboratory opening Saturday, March 22nd, is a cross-divisional curatorial research project that grew out of faculty member Lydia Matthew‘s graduate Transdisciplinary “Curating as a Social Practice” seminar in Fall 2013.
“I invited my students to collaborate with me to co-design an experimental, socially-engaged curatorial platform for this project on the theme of ‘water.’ I was invited to curate by the Directors of Proteus Gowanus gallery in Brooklyn, so I also reached out to Professor Hope Ginsburg at Virginia Commonwealth University, and she, like myself, invited her students to participate as we transformed Proteus Gowanus into a hands-on learning lab. As you’ll see below, the final participant list includes Parsons faculty (myself in AMT and Laura Sansone in SDS), Lang (Bhawani Venkataraman), as well as grad students from Fine Arts (Jeremy Olson and Aaron Cooper), Design Studies (Juan Pablo Pemberty and Veronica Uribe) and Design and Technology (Barbara Campagnoni). I’m also involving my current undergraduate ADHT undergraduate seminar students as participants who will contribute to the ThirstLab, so this is a great New School story!”
An exhibition and month-long participatory laboratory
DATE: March 22 – April 19, 2014
Project Opening: Saturday, March 22, 6-9pm
First ThirstLab workshop: Saturday, March 22, 3-6pm
At Proteus Gowanus: 543 Union Street down the alley off Nevins, Brooklyn, NY
Tammy Pittman 917-750-5941 OR Sasha Chavchavadze 917-692-2669
Thirst – (thurst) noun
  1. a sensation of dryness in the mouth and throat caused by need of liquid. 
  2. the physical conditionresultingfrom this need, in any of various degrees: ‘They almost died of thirst.’
  3. strong or eager desire; craving: ‘a thirst for knowledge.’
Proteus Gowanus, interdisciplinary gallery and reading room, presents THIRST, the third investigatory adventure of our yearlong exploration of WATER. THIRST is a participatory curatorial project that explores thirsty materials, plants, animals and people. In order to reveal the complex forces shaping our physical need and psychological desire for water, Proteus Gowanus will be transformed into a living research laboratory, a new iteration of our Zone A Workshop series.
From World Water Day to the brink of Earth Day 2014, ThirstLab will feature an evolving installation, an open archive and a series of hands-on workshops that highlight the politics and pleasures surrounding Brooklyn’s waters, actively linking events in the past to our present conditions. This public platform brings together multidisciplinary artists, designers, students, scholars, chefs, filmmakers, writers, farmers, DIY makers, political activists, musicians, entrepreneurs, water sports enthusiasts and curious audience members to exchange different forms of knowledge, cultivate practical skills and share personal stories related to our use—and abuse–of local aquatic resources.
Workshops will teach water-based crafts of felting and dyeing with locally sourced plants, explore the challenges of water purification and fresh water access, investigate the popularity of hydroponic farming and small-scale craft liquor production, and demonstrate the capacity of water to act as a healing force, as seen through the eyes of eco-scientists, fly fishing anglers and surfers. Thirsts by their very nature must be quenched, but how this occurs, and the implications of those actions, will be the focus of collective inquiry within Thirstlab.
In September, 2013, Proteus Gowanus launched a yearlong investigation in art, artifacts, books and events of WATER, the strange elixir that dominates our planet. Over the course of the year, we are producing five exhibitions and numerous events and workshops exploring the qualities of water and its impact on our lives. THIRST is the third exhibition and features a series of interactive workshops, described below. Following THIRST we will present an exhibition about Newtown Creek and the Gowanus Canal and an exhibition of works related to water by artists from New Orleans. The WATER theme year will end in mid-July.
Project Curators: Lydia Matthews + Current Collective**
Project Participants:
  • Hope Ginsburg + Sponge HQ*
  • Laura Sanson
  • Chris Lovrich + Alex Wenner (Brooklyn Homebrew)
  • Peter Walsh
  • Alex Prud’homme
  • Michael Cirino (A Razor A Shiny Knife)
  • Mary Mattingly
  • Windowfarms
  • Bhawani Venkataraman
  • Viraj Puri (Gotham Greens)
  • Brad Estabrooke (Breukelen Distilling Company)
  • Cleo Woelfle-Erskine + July Cole (Water Underground)
  • Lexy Lovell + Michael Uys (Out of the Blue Productions)
  • Cliff Skudins (Surf For All)
  • Lena Roca (Yoga on the Rocks)
  • Tamar Franklin + Andy Rogers (Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing)
  • Jeremy Olson + Aaron Cooper + Barbara Compagnoni + Juan Pablo Pemberty + Veronica Uribe (Current Collective**)
*Sponge HQ is an interdisciplinary lab, workshop, classroom and project space installed at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Anderson Gallery in Richmond, VA, which serves as home to Hope Ginsburg’s Sponge project and the experimental Colablablab curriculum. Participants include: Kara Beckner, Colleen Brennan, Jasmine Calvert, Jessica Carey, Madison Clark, Lindsay Clements, Liesa Collins, Mason Fletcher, JoJo Houff, Gretchen Mull, Summer Rezeli, Stephanie Schapowal, Davis Scherer, Clare van Loenen.
**Current Collective is a transdisciplinary team of graduate students from Parsons The New School for Design who co-create research-oriented, socially-engaged curatorial platforms focused on the politics and poetics of natural and social systems. Founding members include: Barbara CompagnoniAaron Cooper, Veronica Uribe Del Aguila, Allison Grimes, Taylor Kuhn, Natalie Neilson, Olivia Nickel, Jeremy Olson, Juan Pablo Pemberty, Komal Sharma, Salem Tsegaye.
Proteus Gowanus is an interdisciplinary gallery and reading room housed in a former 1900 box factory by the Gowanus Canal. Proteus works collaboratively with community organizations, artists and workers in other disciplines to organize exhibitions of art, artifacts and books around a yearlong theme. Proteus also harbors and nurtures eight additional projects-in-residence which have grown out of our thematic exhibitions and partnerships. These projects share with Proteus a love of books, a wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, and a desire to engage the community in investigative activities.  This year’s investigatory theme at Proteus Gowanus is WATER.
Admission Fee: $5 
Hydrogen Bonding: A Workshop in Natural Dyeing, Felting and Water-Molecule-Making

March 22, 3-6pmWorkshop Leaders: Hope Ginsburg (artist/ educator Virginia Commonwealth University) and Laura Sansone (owner House-Wear Design Studio/ educator Parsons The New School for Design)Water is linked to textile production through history, legend and industry. Early textile mills were powered by water wheels built near fast-flowing rivers and streams. Integral to the natural dyeing process, water works in tandem with the sun and soil to grow the plants used for dye material. The tale about the origin of felted textiles involves the sweat of two saints fleeing from persecution, who packed their sandals with wool and at the end of their journey, the movement and moisture turned the wool into felt socks. Join artist and felt-maker, Hope Ginsburg, along with Laura Sansone and her Mobile Textile Lab, for a hands-on workshop about the basics of local materials sourcing, natural dyeing and wool felt making. Learn how to make dyes with regionally grown plants and vegetables from the local farmers markets. Discover how to massage fleece into felt, and in keeping with our thirsty theme, craft your own felt water molecule! Hope and Laura will illuminate how these workshop activities relate to their broader project work as artists and designers, followed by a brief hydro-focused group dialogue moderated by curator Lydia Matthews. Wrap up as the Thirst opening gets underway…and stick around for, of course, a drink celebrating both World Water Day and the launch of ThirstLab.
POST-WORKSHOP TREAT! At 6pm following the workshop, Chris Lovrich from Brooklyn Homebrew will be demonstrating how to brew a batch of beer from one of their favorite DIY kits, so if you’re interested in learning how to use water to cook up a different kind of plant-steeped concoction, be sure to catch him in action during our Thirst Opening.THIRSTLAB WORKSHOP #2: Ripple Effects: The Politics of Fresh Water Flows
Sunday, March 30, 3-5pm

Workshop Leaders:  Alex Prud’homme (Author of Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the 21st Century), Peter Walsh (visual/public artist), Michael Cirino (culinary artist and founder of A Razor A Shiny Knife)
In author Alex Prud’homme’s words, “Every time we use water – even for something as mundane as washing our hands, spraying the lawn, or generating power for light – it sets off deep and wide hydrologic ripple effects, with consequences that most of us are unaware of.  Now we no longer have the luxury of ignorance.” In New York City, we take our access to fresh water for granted, and rarely think twice about its source or what forces shaped its presence in our kitchen sink. And yet the history and current reality of our so-called “local” water is a complex, layered tale, linking the city to specific regions and communities in upstate New York through the famous (and infamous!) Croton Aqueduct. What do we need to know about the political and socio-economic dynamics of this fresh water flow? How can we become more conscious of clean, potable water’s impact on our health and daily life in general, especially at a time when access to drinking water is becoming a 21st century global crisis due to increasing privatization, climate change and pollution? Join us and experience how a writer, a visual artist and a culinary performance artist rise to the challenge of making these issues palpable through their books, public art projects–and even by even serving up some “edible infographics” that help us digest these challenging realities.
Gowanus Drinks: A Workshop/Walking Tour of Thirsty Plants and Thirsty People
Saturday, April 5th, 4-7pm
Workshop Leaders: Jeremy Olson (Artist/Current Collective Member), Aaron Cooper (Artist/Current Collective Member), with Bhawani Venkataraman (Interdisciplinary Scientist, Eugene Lang College The New School), Cleo Woelfle-Erskine (Hydrologist & Co-Founder of Greywater Guerrillas) and July Cole (Poet and Co-editor, Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground), Viraj Puri (Co-Founder & CEO, Gotham Greens), Alex Wenner (Brooklyn Homebrew), Brad Estabrooke (Founder, Breuckelen Distilling Company)Gowanus is a literal backwater, a tidal swamp that has been channeled and paved over by political, economic, and environmental forces since the first European colonists arrived. Tracing a meandering path through the region’s history–from its early agricultural roots, to the infamous Whisky Wars and Prohibition Era, to Superfund and today’s hydroponic farms, craft liquor distilleries and DIY brewery shops–this workshop culminates in a two hour walking tour that will investigate the dark and bright sides of the Gowanus. We’ll begin by exploring how water quality relates to agricultural methods and industrial processes, and how these issues may help account for the emergence of small-scale urban farming and alcohol production methods. We will bring together scientists, entrepreneurs, artists and DIY enthusiasts to exchange ideas about how pollution, disease, and economic crisis–as well as new industries, culture, and social life– are fed by the Gowanus canal. Does the proliferation of DIY activities and small-scale local businesses respond to people’s real needs for agency in their daily lives? How have these ventures factored into real estate speculation and quality of life in the area? Explore these questions first-hand through a walking, talking & tasting tour led by artist Jeremy Olson that will include stops at Gotham Greens Hydroponic Farm (located on the top of the neighborhood’s new Whole Foods store), Brooklyn Homebrew, and Breuckelen Distilling Company, the first gin distiller to open in Brooklyn since Prohibition. Put on your walking shoes and join us as we open our minds and wet our whistles.
Body-Mind-Water Aquatherapy: A Gnarly Rip and Fly-Fishing Workshop

Saturday, April 12, 3-6pm
Workshop Leaders: Current Collective members Barbara Compagnoni, Juan Pablo Pemberty, Veronica Uribe Del Aguila withLexy Lovell + Michael Uys (Filmmakers/ Out of the Blue Productions), Cliff Skudins (Surfer/teacher at Skudin Surf and Surf for All), Lena Roca (Owner, Yoga on the Rocks), Tamar Franklin and Andy Roberts (Mid Atlantic Program Coordinator and Lead for New York City Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing)

Water can act as a healing force that both strengthens and pleasures us. We began life comforted by our mother’s fluid womb and now gravitate to the shore for solace, yearning for a sea view and clamoring for deep water adventures. Today’s ThirstLab workshop will create a forum to exchange stories and learn hands-on physical skills related to the watersports of surfing and fly-fishing. Hope Ginsburg & Sponge HQ’s felted water adventure gear and designer Barbara Compagnoni’s interactive digital “wii” surf meditation game will set the day’s playful tone, followed by Emmy Award winning Brooklyn-based filmmakers Lexy Lovell and Michael Uys, who will discuss their current “Blue Marble” documentary film project that builds on marine biologist Wallace J. Nicholson’s “Blue Mind” work encouraging scientists to study the emotional impact of the waters on people of all ages. Why do we thirst for forms of hydrotherapy, both individually and collectively? How do filmmakers use their craft to capture the latest scientific research and the richly varied narratives people share about what oceans and rivers mean to them? We’ll also hear from Cliff Skudins (of Skudins family surfing fame) about the work of their school and nonprofit organization “Surf For All”, which teaches all kinds of people–from buffed and able-bodied to anxious or disabled–how to catch a wave. Finally, we’ll learn about “Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF),” a nonprofit organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military personnel and veterans by providing fly fishing experiences. The bulk of today’s workshop, however, will be a participatory experience: Lena Roca will offer a sample “surf yoga” workshop in the space, leading us through poses and breathing techniques that relate to surfing moves that will help you rip, while PHWFF master fly-fishing anglers will teach us fly-casting motions and how to craft fly-fishing lures. What physical skills and personal tales can we share that will deepen our appreciation of local waters? By the end of the day, workshop participants will report back on the most interesting stories or insights that were “hooked” through this unlikely but lively exchange.

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