The Herbert Bayer earthwork in Kent was the first art piece I knew that had two distinct lives: one wet, one dry. And that concept-- that a piece of sculpture could show you the changes in the landscape, was pivotal to me. From Bayer I learned that art did not have to collect dust while it sat unchanging—storm water could flow into the sculpture— recharging the imagery with every major rainstorm. And I have tried to collaborate with nature so that tides and storm water, rain and currents would work to continually change my sculpture so that the art is about reflecting the dynamics of nature.
As a sculptor, my interest in the natural world rests both in art and science. I work within the two fields, using art as a vehicle for translating the patterns and processes of the natural world into the language of human understanding. I have worked to bring a whole neighborhood of microorganisms into view in a street in Seattle, to picture the gastronomic activity of the inhabitants of a creek at the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia. I have tracked the direction of the wind at a Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, and collected the precipitation every day of a six month show in the Hudson River Museum to create a calendar of rainfall. I have mapped the watersheds of the Delaware River in Philadelphia and New Jersey and Yadkin River in Winston-Salem North Carolina with water collected from the actual tributaries. I am presently working on the final design documents for a sculpture in a new park on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, which shows the tidal movement and the hydrological patterns of the river. I am interested in showing the invisible aspects of the natural world at all of its scales: the delicate architecture of microorganisms and their complicated relationships of eating and being eaten, the spiraling hydrological patterns of a stream, the prevailing winds and their effects on vegetation, the flow of water through a living system. Meshing the clarity of diagrams, the beauty of natural forms and the visceral sense of the site, I try to create an instant of wonder and understanding for the viewer.
Stacy Levy attended the Architectural Association in London, England, and received her BA in Sculpture with a minor in Forestry from Yale University. She next attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture before receiving her MFA in Sculpture from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. She has received numerous commissions, including Tide Flowers along the Hudson River in New York, NY; Acid Mine Drainage & Art Project for Vitondale, Pennsylvania, with Julie Bargmann, T. Allan Comp, Bob Deason and community volunteers; Watermap in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and A Month of Tides near Biscayne Bay, Florida. Levy was featured in Sculpture magazine in December 2006 and Landscape Architecture magazine, April 2007.
Engineered to Drain, a proposal for Fresh Kills: Artist Respond to the Closure of the Staten Island Landfill. Commissioned by Snug Harbor Cultural Center, 2001.
The piles of garbage at the landfill are covered with an impermeable cap to prevent rainwater from coming in contact with the garbage. Rain Water percolating through the garbage makes a toxic liquid which is far more difficult to control than the more confinable dry ingredients of a pile of garbage. Keeping the rain away from the collection of garbage is a landfill’s first duty. This umbrella-like cap prevents the rain from seeping in. But the rain must flow off the landfill during every storm event. Engineered to Drain maps the flow of this unwanted rainwater down and across the capped landfill. Like the invisible runoff, the project is not always perceivable. The lights go on as darkness falls, making the project visible only at dusk and in the night. The proposed materials are solar lights, blue gels and poles.
This project was slated to be installed in September 2001. With the changed role of the Fresh Kills landfill after September 11th, this piece remains unbuilt at this site.