Grantee Profile: Society for Cultural Exchange’s Land Art Generator

To celebrate and support our 2015 grantee organizations, we will profile each one on our website. Read on to learn about the exciting work our grantees are doing in the community!

The Society for Cultural Exchange’s Land Art Generator Initiative is currently facilitating a six-week Art+Energy Summer Camp in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood in collaboration with Conservation Consultants, Inc. and Homewood Renaissance Association. The camps engages youth in the intersection between energy conservation and art in the local community and includes field trips, workshops and lectures. Elizabeth Monoian, one of the founding directors of the Land Art Generator Initiative, talked to us about the camp’s progress:

TRCF: How is the Art+Energy Camp going thus far?

Elizabeth Monoian: We are delighted by the level of engagement that the students have. Homewood Renaissance Association organized a great group of kids. There is a wide age group, which is really great because learning gets reinforced when older kids take turns teaching younger kids. The first week has been epic. We’ve covered a lot of content about energy and visited a number of sites in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region. At the same time, we’ve been continuing our LAGI educational outreach with workshops this week at the Carnegie Libraries and the Manchester Youth Development Center.

TRCF: What motivated you to create this program?

EM: We developed the Art+Energy Camp in partnership with Conservation Consultants Incorporated and Homewood Renaissance Association. All three of our organizations combined our interests in STEM education, youth outreach, environmental conservation, and the arts to bring a unique program to Homewood students. We are really looking forward to next week when the kids will begin sketching their ideas for the big outcome of the Camp, which will be a functional renewable energy artwork for the neighborhood.

During today’s field trip we overheard them talking to themselves about ideas, so the creative wheels are beginning to turn! This permanent sculpture will be a place where anyone can stop to rest and recharge their cell phone or other personal electronic device. And it will be a point of pride for these students. We hope that it will inspire them to a life of creativity and concern for the environment. That is the motivation behind the program.

TRCF: Where are you in the process of implementing your program? 

EM: We’re finishing up week 1 of a 6-week camp. This week was an introduction to what we are calling “existing conditions” of energy generation. They visited a coal fired power plant, nuclear power plant, the Conservation Consultants building (first LEED building in Pittsburgh), the Energy Innovation Center, and tomorrow Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus. Next week they will get some more conceptual background and we’ll start sketching their ideas for a solar artwork for their neighborhood.

TRCF: How many youth are involved? What is their role?

EM: This week we had 15 students. Around 6 more will be joining us next week. This is a very hands-on camp. As they are learning the landscape of energy they are also busy thinking about a solar artwork sculpture that they will design, prototype, and help install. They are all responsible for documenting the entire process, writing a press release, and putting together an event to “unveil” their artwork on August 13.

TRCF: Do you have any upcoming events?

EM: On August 13 the community is invited to join us for the unveiling of their artwork. This will be at the Homewood Renaissance Center on Frankstown Road.

TRCF: What long-term results are you hoping to yield? Have you seen any results since youve begun?

EM: Yes, we’ve already seen some amazing results. The kids are really excited to show off their new vocabulary and have really grasped complex ideas including energy conversion efficiency, green building, ecological footprint, and climate change. Guided tours of the Beaver Valley Nuclear Plant and the Bruce Mansfield Coal Fired Power Plant gave them a really good understanding of what the existing conditions of our energy landscape looks like. Each day we begin the camp by asking what they learned the day before. They are articulating their new understandings beautifully!

To follow the Art+Energy Camps progress, visit http://www.artenergycamp.org/index.html.

Check back soon for our next 2015 grantee profile.