Back to All Events

Rethinking Illness: Art, Health, and the Environment

  • School of Visual Arts 133 West 21st Street, Auditorium 101C New York, NY, 10011 United States (map)

Access/Points: Approaches to Disability Arts
Part 3: Rethinking Illness: Art, Health, and the Environment

Ticketing Note: This event is free and open to the public. RSVP is required to attend, but does not guarantee seating.

On the occasion of the new temporary public art installation Out of Thin Air by Sari Carel, commissioned by More Art in City Hall Park, we are proud to present Rethinking Illness: Art, Health, and The Environment, an interdisciplinary symposium on art, illness, and environmental activism. This program is part of Access/Points: Approaches to Disability Arts, organized by CUE's Public Programming Fellow, Jeff Kasper, in collaboration with CUE and More Art.

How do themes of time, endurance, exhaustion, and resilience pervade and impact artistic practice and aesthetics, public health policy, environment activism, and the experiences of people living with chronic illness and disability? What are the ways we should be mindful and critical of how different interpretations and expressions of time impact our lives? For example, how do multi-year clean air quality goals interface with the experiences of New Yorkers living with chronic respiratory illness and how that impacts their ability to navigate the environment? How do human expressions of time interact with the durations seemingly necessary to see through community-driven, environmental policy developments that aim to protect the communities we live, work, and breathe in? What type of approaches are artists and grassroots public health organizers taking? What are the potentials for creative intervention?

This multi-part gathering will bring artists, academics, public health advocates, and environmental activists into an intimate dialogue with the audience through presentations, short workshops, actions, and discussions which traverse the social, medical, historical, political, aesthetic, and embodied dimensions of time and illness as they relate to how access to wellness is impacted by policy and built environment. 


Panel 1: Endurance in Public Health & Environmental Policy

Jeff Kasper, CUE Art Foundation Fellow, will address the conceptual framework of the symposium and briefly introduce Out of Thin Air and Access/Points programs. Short presentations from environmental and public health organizations will be followed by group discussion focused on how chronic illness is impacted by environmental factors and the health and identity of residents influence long-term work in policy, community-planning, and grassroots activism. Special attention is given to air quality and access to clean air, though broader environmental topics will be addressed. Guest speakers are Bethany Hogan, Director of Government Affairs at New York Restoration Project on behalf of collaboration with activists from South Bronx Unite; Andy Darrell, Member of Mayor's Sustainability Advisory Board, Regional Director, Environmental Defense Fund; and Melissa Miles, Environmental Justice Manager, Ironbound Community Corporation and Newark Coalition for Healthy Ports (TBC); in conversation with Mary Mattingly, an artist working in varied forms of sculpture and photography focusing on environmental, economic and political change. Her most recent project, Swale, is a floating food forest built atop a barge that travels to piers in New York City.

Intermediary Hour

The panel will break, with a reception including light refreshments and food. Participants are welcome to sign up for two smaller break-out sessions focused on policy action on regional air quality and embodied practices for holistic breathing and wellness. ‘The Art of Breathing Workshop’ requires a separate RSVP, as limited space is available.

a. Writing Workshop:
A drop-in workshop that includes optional letter writing action on regional air quality with Newark Coalition for Healthy Ports. 

b. Embodied Workshop:
During this one-hour workshop, participants will be introduced to the Alexander Technique and Jessica Wolf’s Art of Breathing by master teacher Jessica Wolf, who is a Professor in the Practice of Acting at Yale School of Drama. Central to Wolf’s work is the idea that the respiratory system is the balance wheel of the body. She will guide attendees through principles and procedures that involve respiratory re-education to promote greater physical and emotional well-being. Seated as well as standing participants are welcome. You may sit in a provided chair, your own chair, or bring a yoga mat for floor work. *This is a limited capacity workshop, and a separate RSVP is required. To RSVP, email An email does not guarantee a space - we will reserve spots in the order in which we receive email requests.

Panel 2: Creative Conversation on Art, Illness, and the Environment

Sari Carel will give an introductory presentation and artist talk on Out of Thin Air, a new audio work that straddles experimental sound art and wellness to reframe and amplify experiences of living with chronic illness and navigating environmental duress. The artist will then have a discussion with Benjamin Piekut, Professor of Music, Cornell University, and Kerry Pompeo, project sound engineer with Concord Music, facilitated by Holly Hunter, Program Director at National Sawdust. This discussion will bring together various professional perspectives to discuss the conceptual, personal, and philosophical origins and collaborative processes that make up Out of Thin Air. 

Following the Panel will be an optional group visit to the sound installation, Out of Thin Air, at City Hall Park via subway.


Accessibility: SVA is wheelchair accessible. Panels take place in a ground floor space, with the break out workshops in the intermediary hour taking place in a space accessible by elevator. Sign Language Interpretation and Real Time Captioning are available upon request with at least one week advance notice. Please contact Programs Assistant Lilly Hern-Fondation at (212) 206-3583 or to submit your request. Service dogs are welcome. There is an ADA compliant, single stall bathroom in the facility. The space is not scent-free, but we do request all those attending come low-scent. Children are welcome. The nearest wheelchair accessible MTA subway stations are located at 23rd Street and Park Avenue. Elevator on northeast corner of 23rd Street and Park Avenue South (uptown) and northwest corner of 23rd Street and Park Avenue South (downtown). 

A special thanks to the SVA Department of Visual & Critical Studies for hosting us!


Jeff Kasper received his MFA in social practice from Queens College CUNY and an interdisciplinary BA, also from CUNY where he studied at the Anne & Bernard Spitzer School of Architecture at The City College of New York. In addition to his work with CUE, he works with More Art and Social Practice Queens (SPQ) at Queens College CUNY and is a recipient of the 2017/18 SHIFT Residency at Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Project Space.

Sari Carel works across sound, video, sculpture and collage to explore relationships between sound, image and audience. In addition to Borrowed Light, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NY (2015), her solo exhibitions have included Semaphore Island at the Haifa Museum of Art (2014/15) and Breach of Skin at Melanie Flood Projects in Portland, Oregon (2016). The artist earned her MFA from Hunter College and BFA from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem. She has received grants and residency fellowships from Bundanon Trust, Australia, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Florida, and Socrates Sculpture Park in New York.

Since 2004, More Art has worked with some of the world’s most celebrated artists including Joan Jonas, Pablo Helguera, Dread Scott, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Ernesto Pujol, and Andres Serrano, to produce a wide range of artworks in public spaces that reflect the concerns and challenges of various NYC communities. More Art’s projects amplify the voices of underrepresented New Yorkers, from all ages and backgrounds, in order to speak truth to power about social and political issues affecting our lives.


Access/Points: Approaches to Disability Arts is a series of conversations, workshops, and artist projects that explores ability as the crux of radical inclusion and access in the arts and beyond. The series investigates the ways that artists, cultural producers, and institutions are redefining disability and accessibility in contemporary art by destabilizing our notions of neutral public spaces and arts organizations, and moving towards inclusive body politics and social infrastructures.

Organized by CUE's 2017 Public Programming Fellow, Jeff Kasper, in partnership with Social Practice Queens at Queens College CUNY.

Supported by the Queens Museum and Social Practice Queens at Queens College CUNY.