Recent School of Architecture graduate Sophie Riedel curated and contributed work to the exhibition Petrochemical America: From Cancer Alley to Toxic Valley as a continuation of her senior thesis project. The exhibit features architectural prints and photography, as well as interactive visualizations developed by Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab of the EPA's National Air Toxics Assessment Toxic Release Inventory.
The exhibition draws on the parallels of existing environmental degradation of Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley” and that region’s reputation for having one of the highest rates of cancer in the country and proposed petrochemical development in southwest Pennsylvania. The exhibit features the drawings of landscape architect Kate Orff/SCAPE Studio alongside visual and audio work by Pittsburgh artists to relate a unique narrative of the people who live in the midst of this toxic industry.
“I was deeply moved by the haunting photographs of the Louisiana bayou, the Ecological Atlas created by Kate Orff and the profound story they weave,” says Sophie Riedel, curator. “Our goal is to bring their analysis of this stretch of the Mississippi River into conversation with the development of possibly four to five cracker plants in the Ohio River Valley.”
Petrochemical America hopes to engage citizens of southwest Pennsylvania and ignite deeper conversation and action around our right to clean air and water in Pennsylvania. This show is curated by Sophie Riedel in collaboration with CMU's CREATE Lab, Clean Air Council, Beaver County Marcellus Shale Awareness Committee and PennFuture through the Air Quality Collaborative.
The two-week exhibit will open in downtown Pittsburgh’s SPACE gallery, 27 September – 7 October 2017, and move to the Beaver Station Cultural and Event Center for a second showing 16-20 October 2017.
What: Petrochemical America: From Cancer Alley to Toxic Valley
Where: SPACE gallery, 812 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 27 September – 7 October 2017
Wed 27 Sep: 5:00-8:00pm
Opening Reception with Wilma Subra. RSVP here.
Wed 4 Oct: 3:30-6:00pm
Regional Visioning Session. Elected officials and the public are invited to a conversation around a healthier economic future.
Sat 7 Oct: 5:30-8:00pm
Closing Reception with Gena Wirth of SCAPE Studio. Bus Tour of the Petrochemical Plant in Potter Township.
About Sophie Riedel, Curator
Sophie Riedel has devoted her career to community activism and environmental justice issues. Her recent work has focused on the relationship between infrastructure and the social dynamics of landscape. A 2017 B.Arch graduate of the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, she has collaborated with CMU's CREATE Lab and engaged with several regional environmental advocacy groups on campaigns. Regional projects include Re-Imagine Beaver County and the Public Herald's investigation of the DEP's handling of oil and gas industry complaints. Sophie is currently creating data visualizations on regional air quality for the Heinz Endowments. She has contributed to STUDIOGRUBER's project "Hiding in Plain Sight," a public art piece that will be featured in downtown Pittsburgh this fall.