The CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities was proud to present the 4th annual Governors Island Science, Art Exhibition and Lecture Series: Sustainable Living for Sustainable Cities. The program was seeking to engage the public by approaching sustainability in the city from all lenses, drawing lectures from the public, private and research sectors.

Check out the artists, podcasts, and images from Governors Island.

The CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities was proud to present the 4th annual Governors Island Science, Art Exhibition and Lecture Series: Sustainable Living for Sustainable Cities. The program was seeking to engage the public by approaching sustainability in the city from all lenses, drawing lectures from the public, private and research sectors.

As CUNY progresses with its Sustainability Project, it does so in the spirit of adding to the mission of PlaNYC 2030: Building a greener, greater New York. The web of sustainability advocates, educators, and practitioners is as diverse as the city itself and our program reflects this. It is with the understanding that each of these entities plays a pivotal role in finding the solutions that will lead us to a more sustainable city and urbanized world.

The CISC events at Governors Island focus on the importance of sustainability in the city and a trip to Governors Island, an urban oasis marked for open space development is certainly in line with this mission. So pack your picnic basket, hop on the ferry, and support the good work of your fellow New Yorkers!

For more information on Governors Island, including ferry schedules and other events, please see:

Governors Island Lecture Series Speakers

  • Projjal Dutta, Director of MTA Sustainability – “How Transit Riders Are Saving The Earth” – New York City is a bustling metropolis with a small carbon footprint. Nearly one-third of all transit rides in the United States are with the MTA. Learn what we’re doing right in New York City and how we can make mass transit viable for cities nationwide.
  • Carey Pulverman, Lower East Side Ecology Center – “Composting in the City? Yes We Can!” – The average New York City household discards two pounds of organic waste each day—more than a million tons of organic material a year! Composting is one of the most direct, accessible ways to reduce the amount of garbage you produce and we’ll even teach you how you can do it in your apartment!
  • Dylan Gauthier, Mare Liberium & – “How To Build a Boat From Recycled Materials in a Day” – Join us as we build a true water-ready 15-foot boat from scratch in an afternoon—made from discarded plywood!—and learn how you can build one yourself.
  • Andy Padian, Community Preservation Corp. – “How To Curb Catastrophic Waste in Your Home, Condo, Co-op, or Multi-Family Building” – Learn 10 things that you can do in your apartment, building, and office to dramatically reduce energy waste and make your cash flow increase. Money is the real green!
  • Dan Miner, Chair of Sierra Club New York City – “Easy Ways Everyone Can Green Their Workplace” – Since we spend a majority of our time in our workplace, wouldn’t it be nice if it was not only a little more earth friendly, but also healthier and more people friendly? Learn why workplace greening is critical—even the smallest steps count—and how to do it for yourself and your workplace.
  • Sarah Pidgeon and Colin Weatherby, Solar One – “Renewable Energy in NYC!” – New York City is on the cusp of a renewable energy revolution! The latest developments and what’s possible for our city’s future.
  • Bilen Berhanu, Green Thumb NY – “Gardening in the City? Of Course! Window Box and Container Gardening 101” – Want to eat from your own garden, but think you don’t have enough space? Learn the design elements for a good container or window box—the perfect solution when you’re short on growing space—as well as soil mixtures that work well, and tips for planting and maintaining containers all year.
  • Chris Brunson, Recycle a Bicycle – “Why Biking in New York City Is The Best” – There are more than 600 miles of bike trails in New York City! Come and learn where they are and the best ways to use them and why New York City is one of the best cities in America to get on your bike and go. Also, join us all afternoon for a free bike workshop to learn how to take better care of your bike!
  • Jeremy Friedman, NYU Sustainability Task Force – “Green NYU, Green City, Green World” – Learn how NYU is greening their campus and office space and how the exciting changes made there can be made everywhere.
  • Prof. Bill Solecki, Hunter College – “Environmental Town Hall” – -Join Professor Bill Solecki, Director of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities, in a moderated town hall for all New York City residents to discuss environmental issues that affect every borough and neighborhood of our great city.

Governors Island Summer Arts for Sustainability

A number of wonderful artists have contributed work to this years Governors Island Art Exhibition. Their work is on display every weekend at Pershing Hall on Governors Island along with the Speaker Series, open every Saturday from June 27 through September 5 (except July 4th).

Julie Ashcraft
Julie Ashcraft, "Human-powered Computer, 2009" : Governors Island 2009Human-powered Computer, 2009
Digital print

As an artist who is environmentally aware, I make an effort to use as little electricity as possible. But I do love the internet, and even my little laptop uses some power. I have read about generators that hook up to the back wheel of a bicycle so that, rather than propelling the bike forward, pedaling creates electricity.

Hooking my laptop up to such a generator would reduce three problems: (1) pollution or nuclear waste generated by on-the-grid electric power plants, (2) climate change related to burning fossil fuels to make on-the-grid electric power, (3) the seven pounds of weight I have gained since spending so much time in front of a computer. If every New Yorker pedaled for power while surfing the web, the air would be cleaner, we would have less nuclear waste, and there would be fewer overweight people—making not only the city, but also our own bodies, more sustainable.

Raїssa Ange-Gaёlle A. Dally
Raїssa Ange-Gaёlle A. Dally, "The Hudson Reef, 2009" : Governors Island 2009The Hudson Reef, 2009
Mixed Media Collage (masonite board, tempera paint, cray pas, peanut shells, yarn, glass, cotton fabric, lemon seeds, olive pits, dried orange peel, orange seeds, cherry pits, feathers, grape branches, tamarind seed, quenapa pit, gold fabric paint, bristol paper, red ink)

The organisms living in a coral reef are critical to its existence; they assist in its sustainability. Recycling within the reef community helps preserve its amazing biodiversity. Much like a coral reef, New York City is a diverse community in which all inhabitants must do their part to ensure its sustainability. The power of recycling is underestimated; small conscious efforts have the power to transform the sustainability of our city. To meet the challenges of living sustainably, we need to learn from our surrounding natural habitat and consider both the human and ecological impact of our activities. The Hudson Reef is a visual manifestation of simple recycling efforts. The peanut shells are saved from my love of eating peanuts and leftover yarn from my knitting projects. Recycling is not limited to plastic bottles that we throw in a recycle bin. It is also a state of mind. Thoughts such as, “These peanut shells are so beautiful, how can I reuse them?” are simple and lead to innovative, sustainable ideas that will transform our city.

Miroslava Doukas
Miroslava Doukas, "Untitled painting, 2009" : Governors Island 2009Untitled painting, 2009
Acrylic paint

I used colors that have meaning, translated through the eye and to a set of questions and ideas the painting represents. I wanted to work with the space that surrounds the buildings in the city and make it simple, yet illustrate and project the sustainability of city life. Vibrant reds and greens unify the buildings. Pots of grass on top of building roofs show people transforming their urban areas into a place where they can enjoy the environment and contribute to its sustainability.

Untitled sculpture, 2009
Metal, plaster, gesso, wood, lamp, plastic fish

My sculpture addresses the infrastructure of underground running water as used in city life. The sculpture asks questions about the use of water and how it sustains the city and at what cost. The light depicts energy made by harnessing the power of water. The fish represents natural resources, which people must pay attention to in order to ensure a sustainable future for all creatures.

Miroslava Doukas, "Untitled drawing, 2009" : Governors Island 2009Untitled drawing, 2009

My drawing interprets the need to recycle as a part of the transformation of a city and its people. Recycling plastics, aluminum, paper and glass becomes a part of our lives. The drawing shows the importance of separating materials so they can be reshaped again as commodities important to city dwellers, a critical part of the sustainability of our cities and lives.

KD Derr
KD Derr, "Strapless" : Governors Island 2009Strapless
Textile made of potato chip bags

Living sustainably in an urban environment requires ingenuity. These days striving to minimize one’s impact on the planet weighs heavily on the collective consciousness. This dress challenges people to look at what they consider waste in a different way.

Emily Bell Dinan
Emily Bell Dinan, "Phat Farm, 2007" : Governors Island 2009Phat Farm, 2007
Acrylics, collage, canvas

A commentary on American consumption patterns and over indulgence, this landscape depicts man-made manipulations of North America’s natural environment as a result of development, industry and a culture ruled by the tenants of greed and “Manifest Destiny.” With a floating perspective, viewers are taken from Western deserts, to logged forests, across commercial farmland, only to be finally dragged down into an artificial suburban landscape. Inspired by her work as a student of political science, Dinan utilizes comic-book like illustration, pop culture references, and material harvested from vintage National Geographic magazines to portray the vital role the United States plays as the world’s number one consumer of fossil fuels and producer of greenhouse gasses.

Shannon Church, Darlene Diaz, Diamond Pendleton,Bruce Tatarian, Dominique Weinberger, Birsen Yeldener
Shannon Church, Darlene Diaz, Diamond Pendleton,Bruce Tatarian, Dominique Weinberger, Birsen Yeldener "Progress Kits, 2009" : Governors Island 2009Progress Kits, 2009

“Based upon a show at the Whitney which traced the life and death of ideas of progress through art in the 20th century, I challenged my senior seminar students to come up with work that would represent progress for the 21st century. We agreed to design “kits” that contain materials and instructions for activities that relate to categories they came up with—education, conservation, global thinking, economics and community—all important topics for environmental and societal sustainability. Each of the kits involves practical and symbolic elements. For example, one kit that deals with issues of conservation includes a booklet with a comprehensive, up-to-date list of how to save energy. It also contains a time capsule that has a dual function as a recycling center. Another, focusing on education, contains a series of hands-on lessons for very young children that includes growing things (flower pots with soil and seeds), taking care of pets (an insect in a small screened box), making art (crayons, paints and paper), and saving and preserving food (jars). Another kit uses humor and irony to address global thinking. Starting with the premise that global solutions require world travel, this kit is contained in a suitcase. Inside, however, are items that assume and reinforce the idea of American dominance: bottles of hand sanitizer, an electronic translator, lists of American Embassies, and addresses of American fast food chains in major cities outside the US, all to help them feel at home and protect them from the perils of ‘third world’ travel.”
—Maureen Connor, Professor, Queens College

Jeanette Arnone-K.
Jeanette Arnone-K., "Final Sunami" : Governors Island 2009Green-Town Not Sprawl Town, acrylic painting
Final Sunami, acrylic painting
Main Course: Earth and Brains, acrylic painting

In my ongoing “Symbiosis Lost” series, I have been exploring mostly surrealistic images representing our human failing to deal with the magnitude of the earth’s ecological problems that have been unattended for far too long with the complicity and complacency of most of the world’s population, including global warming, energy and resource overuse, over-population, rapid degeneration of nature’s balance and disappearing forests and species, private ownership of water supplies, shortages of food, among many others. Scientific calculations suggest that we may be reaching a point of no return if we do not begin diligently addressing these concerns. I hope my work will propel viewers toward life habits which are more sustainable for our Earth and our survival.

Images from my “Symbiosis Lost” series have been exhibited at several galleries in New York including Theater for the New City where I have an ongoing mural wall on which I create a new work each year.

Jeanette Arnone-K. is an artist living and working in New York City. Her work is available for purchase, including as economically-priced prints. She welcomes comments and inquiries at

Isaac Aden
Two Dodecahedrons: Model for a Public Installation in Bronze
Chipboard and Paint

This model is for a public installation to be made of multiple bronze forms varying in size based on the site. It was inspired primarily from two sources: Buckminster Fuller and Jacopo de Barbari. Fuller developed the geodesic dome and introduced it into architectural vernacular. His dome defied contemporary notions of rectilinear architecture. Fuller, an engineer as well as an architect, found that the geodesic dome— made form equal lateral triangles—was the most efficient design for covering large areas, both in terms of material used and the strength provided by the design. In the portrait below by Jacopo de Barbari we see Fra Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan monk, with a model of a dodecahedron on the table beside him. Hopefully by introducing these forms into the public spheres and their function as a part of our architectural history we can see how they may be applicable to our urban sustainable architecture of the future.

Isaac Aden, "Bennett's Hollow, 2009" : Governors Island 2009Bennett’s Hollow, 2009
Oil on linen

This painting depicts a rural part of upstate New York. Aden visited the Kagan farm with the intention of creating a new work for this exhibition on Governors Island, exploring the artistic potential available at this site. He worked from life on this idyllic landscape. Aden explains his work by saying, “The condition of our rural and wilderness environments will play crucial roles in the sustainability of our cities in the future.” The Kagan farm harvests crops which grow naturally and are not cultivated. They are also building a wind turbine to harness wind energy. The farm is a model of how sustainability must be considered on a macro level. The sustainability of cities will be influenced by many conditions, energy production from wind turbines like the ones found on these rural farms among them.

Isaac Aden, "Volatile Monolith, 2002" : Governors Island 2009Volatile Monolith, 2002
Steel and paper

This work is the first of a new method of drawing developed by artist Isaac Aden. Aden works with steel plates, oxidizing them using fluids and placing materials on the surfaces. This piece of paper was used to create a shape on the steel. The paper acts as a sponge and soaks up the oxidation. Aden has frequently used appropriation of materials that would normally be considered bi-products of action. This practice has led to the development of new forms and hopefully leads the viewer to consider what bi-products they create in their own lives and what possibilities exist for their use or reuse.


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