The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Princeton Atelier will present wE-unions: Green is the New Orange and Black, an outdoor environmental festival presented by the students of the spring Princeton Atelier course “Performing Environmental Stories,” led by Kelly Baum and Jenny Price. The festival will take place on Monday, May 4 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (sunset) on the north lawn of the Frist Campus Center on the Princeton University campus. This event is free and open to the public.
The course challenged the 11 students to form an eco-corps that focuses on environmental issues. Engaging with “social practice,” a term which refers to an increasingly popular form of public art that takes a participatory and often lighthearted approach to urgent social and political issues, students of this Atelier designed interactive projects that encourage audiences to experience, perform, and reimagine environmental problems and solutions.
wE-unions, which plays off Princeton’s annual alumni reunions weekend, will include a Welcome Station in addition to tents housing four participatory projects on the intertwined issues of environment, public space, community, and justice. Each project is designed, organized, and performed by students in the course in conjunction with the faculty. Visitors are encouraged to participate.
Visitors will start at the Welcome Station where every participant will be given a wristband for showing up. One of the projects featured at the festival, the “Red Solo Cup Exploratorium,” takes the form of a children’s museum staffed by enthusiastic guides. Through playful games, this project reconstructs the cradle-to-grave life of an (extra)ordinary red solo cup. “A Sense of Where You Are: An Audio Tour,” another project at the festival, chronicles the past and present history of five sites on campus: Poe Field, Firestone Plaza, Streicker Bridge, Scudder Plaza, and Prospect Gardens. The stories and histories of these sites are narrated through podcasts that gather interviews with Princeton students, faculty, staff, and alumni, including University Architect Ron McCoy, author John McPhee, and many others. “Fitz and Randolph Investments Co.” takes the form of a two-person theatrical event on the subject of corporate “green-washing” and sustainable investment practices. “(Un)-Just De(s)serts: A Cooking Contest” is presented as a variation on a typical cooking competition and is designed to dramatize the disparities in access to healthy, affordable food. Contestants and judges will be drawn from the audience.
Guests are invited to arrive at any time and visit each of the projects on their own timetable. wE-unions will conclude with the “PU-Rade” starting at 7:30 p.m., a trash-themed parade that will circumnavigate the event area and proceed through the Frist Campus Center. The PU-Rade will dramatize the social geography of waste generation and disposal, while it celebrates the end of wE-unions and disposes of the trash generated by the event.
“This event will surprise and delight you,” notes Price. “Our students stepped up with incredible creativity and passion, and they’ve designed projects that are a great deal of fun but will also push you to think differently about environmental issues.”
“These projects move beyond personal responsibility,” adds Baum, “to really showcase the larger social and economic questions about environmental problems and solutions.”
wE-unions is cosponsored by The Princeton Environmental Institute, the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities, the Princeton Office of Sustainability, and Princeton University Art Museum.
Jenny Price is a public writer, artist, and historian who focuses on U.S. environmental topics. She was also the 2014 Barron Visiting Professor in the Environment and Humanities at Princeton. The author of “Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in L.A.” and Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America, she has also written for GOOD, Sunset, Believer, Audubon, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. As a co-founder of the Los Angeles Urban Rangers art collective,, Price has created such projects as Public Access 101: Malibu Public Beaches and Downtown L.A. Trail System. She has a Ph.D. in history from Yale University and has been a Research Scholar at the UCLA Center for the Study of Women since 1998. Price is currently working on a new book, Stop Saving the Planet! — & Other Tips for 21st-Century Environmentalists.
Kelly Baum is the Haskell Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Princeton University Art Museum. She has been working as a curator and scholar for almost 15 years. Baum has published widely and organized dozens of exhibitions, including Nobody’s Property: Art, Land, Space 2000-2010, Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Untitled; and most recently New Jersey as Non-Site, for which she received a Warhol Curatorial Research Fellowship. Upcoming exhibitions include Beckett’s Decade. In addition to overseeing the Museum’s Sarah Lee Elson, Class of 1984, International Artist in Residence Program, she serves as a curatorial adviser to Princeton’s campus art committee.
The Princeton Atelier was founded by Princeton Professor Emerita Toni Morrison and is directed by Paul Muldoon, Princeton’s Howard G.B. Clark ’21 Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Creative Writing. This unique academic program brings together professional artists from different disciplines to create new work in the context of a semester-long course. A painter might team with a composer, a choreographer might join with an electrical engineer, a company of theater artists might engage with environmental scientists, or a poet might connect with a videographer. Princeton students have an unrivaled opportunity to be directly involved in these collaborations.