Cause and Affect

Landscape architects often have the job of balancing the conflicting interests of preservation and development. One example is at National Parks, where visitor access and circulation is a necessary element that still has to be careful not to destroy the resource people are there to see in the first place. We face the same issues on private lands, where the sustainability of the area is often at war with the uses we demand of it. Stacy Levy is an artist that captures the fragility and power of an ever-changing habitat, using wind as the paintbrush or temperature as the sculptor that defines the shape, movement and outcome of her installations. Her Melting Point exhibit, for example, seems to contrast our need for air conditioned lifestyles with the impact it has on our global environment. Doesn’t hurt that her message is wrapped in beautiful and evocative pieces that dare you not to pay attention what’s really going on right before your eyes…

Melting Point is a two part installation. The exterior sculpture is a tall, hanging column filled with hundreds of glass balls, each containing different vegetable oils that respond to the ever-changing temperature outside. The response of the oils to the environment marks the ordinary seasonal fluctuation of temperature, but also hints at the sensation of an impending heat looming on the horizon. This exterior piece is coupled with a series of tear-drop shaped vessels inside the gallery, highlighting the contrast between our small, climate-controlled spaces and a global climate that is out of control.


Riverine is comprised of 600 stems installed on a floodplain, the cusp between land and water. These stems move like tall grasses responding to the choreography of the wind. After six months, the stems will be removed and live willows will be planted in each hole.

We often walk on the land without any idea of the underpinnings of our world. This Water Map gives the students, faculty and staff a sense of how the geology of this area influences the watershed patterns. People can see how their landscape works: where the rain water flows and where the mountain ridges are, and they can get some idea of the locations and names of the streams where they live.

Seeing the Path of the Wind: A weather vane and anemometer, placed on the roof of the gallery sends wind speed and direction data into a digital weather station inside. This station turns off and on eight fans at the cardinal points of a thirty foot diameter compass made of 1,300 organza flags. As the wind direction outdoors changes, the corresponding fans would turn on and off, to simulate the wind flowing through the building. Depending on the velocity of the wind speed, the flags will ripple of fully extend. Incoming storms can be detected by changes in the wind’s prevailing direction.

View more images of Levy’s work (below):

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