Pipelines and People

On the night of September 24th, I walked down 26th street between Park Ave and Lexington and ran into a quiet gathering of people. Mechthild Schmidt Feist was in the midst of setting up a projector to screen a short video installation on the side of a building and she had plenty of her neighbors out for support. The animated video is about dirty energy, fracking, and the Keystone XL pipeline. Mechthild Schmidt Feist’s work was a part of Human Impacts Institute’s 10 Days of Climate Action 2013!

Mechthild, an artist and professor at New York University, has been working with animation graphics for over 20 years. After learning about issues related to energy consumption, GHG emissions, and water contamination, she felt an urgency to do something about it. That is when the idea dawned on her to use her art to engage a new kind of audience with these environmental issues. She explains,

“I chose two different issues: the Tarsands KXL pipeline and fracking. The visualization means to show both destruction and the already existing sustainable alternatives. Reducing the ideological debate to a visual statement is meant to address the doubting, disenfranchised, or ‘too rushed to care’ citizen and build interest and support on these two issues.”


The quiet gathering didn’t stay quiet for long. The piece sparked some heated and fascinating discussions. What was inspiring was the diversity of people that actually came to enjoy the event or happened to stop as they walked by. A financial analyst, a sound designer, a student from NYU, some tourists from the UK, and a young girl taking her dog for a walk are just a few of the many people that took notice of Mechthild’s stirring piece. I was surprised by how many people were actually unaware of hydraulic fracturing and the Keystone Pipeline. It was rewarding to truly build support on the two issues Mechthild chose to focus on.

LeAnne Harvey, Community Relations Manager

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