A unique lighting project is coming to upstate NY (Albany, Schenectady and Troy) that could be something that Buffalo might want to take a look at. The project, called Breathing Lights, will see the installation of LED lights into 300 vacant and blighted homes in run down neighborhoods. The hope is that the lighting, which brightens and dims as if breathing, will turn the abandoned buildings into artistic, vibrant places that would help to illuminate neighborhoods as places of life and potential. After all, a lifeless dark neighborhood can appear foreboding. An illuminated neighborhood appears safe – that why homeowners are always asked to keep their porch lights on. Lighting has been proven to deter criminal activity.
Principal Artist Adam Frelin and Lead Architect Barbara Nelson developed this innovative program over the course of nearly two years to pay homage to local history, create dialogue and bring together communities. Local students, engineers, artists and product developers designed, built and installed the custom lighting fixtures over the past 90 days.
For more on this project, you can check out this CityLab article that sheds a light on the project. Could something along these lines also work in certain East Side neighborhoods? Breathing Lights is being made possible thanks to nonprofits such as TAP, Inc., along with loads of community and private-sector partners including The Upstate Alliance for Creative Economy. Hopefully the full impact of this project will be weighed, and it will lead to similar projects in other cities down the road. When thinking about the types of creative efforts that could benefit the East Side, we should remember that Buffalo is the original City of Light.
“Public art projects bring citizens together, as well as attract visitors and economic activity to a city – and encourage government agencies to work together in new ways,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, three-term Mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The collaboration between these mayors, artists, agencies and creative groups across Albany, Troy and Schenectady is a perfect example of just how unifying temporary public art projects can be.”
Breathing Lights is one of four winners of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, selected from 237 city applicants nationwide.
“The launch of Breathing Lights demonstrates anything is possible with collaboration, hard work and dedication of community partners, staff and volunteers. The project has generated support of the arts, as well as thoughtful conversation about the issues facing New York’s Capital Region,” said Barbara Nelson, Breathing Lights Lead Architect and Community Engagement Director. “We urge any and all interested community members and visitors to come to an event, take a tour and join in what promises to be a fruitful dialogue around the important issues of vacancy and abandonment that affect some of our cities’ most vibrant communities.”