Sensing Change at the Chemical Heritage Foundation

posted by , on July 1, 2013 at 5:07 pm

When: July 1, 2013 through May 2, 2014

Where: Chemical Heritage Foundation at 315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, (2 blocks South of 3rd and Market Street)

Price: FREE…that’s right… FREE

“This exhibit is about what people are seeing and not about polar bears and glaciers,” exclaims Elizabeth McDonnell, Project Leader for the Center for Contemporary History and Policy, as she talks about the new exhibit, Sensing Change, at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. This eye-opening exhibit includes works by Katie Holten, Stacy Levy and Vaughn Bell, just to name a few.

Katie Holten’s belief that “humans are uprooted and disengaged from the current ecological crisis” inspired her work Uprooted: New York Street Trees which displays the underground roots of NY street trees – the roots never seen. Stacy Levy’s work, Calendar of Rain, serves as a “visceral method of keeping time and observing annual weather cycles.” Village Green, by Vaughn Bell “inspires a sense of humor and curiosity as we consider our role in dynamic ecosystems” as you poke your head into “floating” Plexiglass greenhouses.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Vaughn Rinner (mother of Vaughn Bell creator of Village Green) about Bell’s undergrad and graduate work; and got the inside scoop on Vaughn Bell’s path to an exhibit at CHF:

  • Early interest in “how people related to the environment around them”
  • B.A in Nature and Culture: Human Perspectives on the Natural Environment
  • For her undergrad senior project – she studied how people used grocery carts as urban gardens
  • M.F.A in Studio for Inter-related Media, where she began her work with greenhouse installations
  • 2008 – Installation of Village Green exhibit at Lycoming College Gallery in Williamsport, PA
  • 2013 – Installation of Village Green at Chemical Heritage Center


Sensing Change blends nature, science and art is a unique and aesthetic way. By viewing climate change this way; I felt more connected to the changes happening around me. This exhibit didn’t feel like an “Environment 101: The Basics of the World Around You” lecture, if felt more like a self-awakening of my own ecosystem.

If you are a science enthusiast, nature lover or free next Friday night; feel free to check out the CHF’s First Friday event which is the opening celebration of the Sensing Change exhibit. There will be short tours of the new exhibit and programming around “Lungs in the City” which explores the use of plants in the city to improve air quality.

As always, “chive on” my friends!!

– Monet Thomas-Anderson

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