Feet to the Fire

Feet to the Fire

The first year of F2F began with a seven-month planning period that began in September 2007 where partnerships were solidified, project activities outlined, a budget finalized and an evaluation plan drafted. All activities were overseen by the Feet to the Fire University Planning Committee made up of the provost, the academic deans, participating faculty, students, and community partners, such as the Jonah Center for Earth and Art and the Green Street Arts Center. This initial planning period was dedicated to planning the 18-month project that includes research opportunities for a team of students and faculty to explore first-hand the effects of global warming, fieldwork studies in art and science, performances, festivals, pedagogical exchanges in existing courses, commissioning of artists and convening of experts. 

Feet to the Fire Festival


The first event to kick off the project was the Feet to the Fire Festival, which took place on May 10, 2008. For over seven months, a 32-member planning committee of campus and community members worked to plan the Festival. “All of us working on the Festival are united in the belief that the arts have the potential to help us see and understand the impact of climate change while at the same time assist us in envisioning a sustainable future,” Pamela Tatge, Director of the CFA, said.

The F2F Festival featured campus and regional artists who created installations and performances as a means to understand the impact of climate change and to imagine a sustainable future. The Festival featured a farmer’s market and interactive exhibits coordinated by the Jonah Center for Earth and Art that highlighted energy conservation, sustainability and resilient communities. The event also featured a sculpture garden, labyrinth, theater, dance, music, poetry, art and performances by Art Farm’s Circus for a Fragile Planet, Marion Belanger, Tom Callinan, Electric Junkyard Gamelan, Green Street Arts Center, Independent Day School, Kalimba Liberian Group, Geoff Kaufman, Jesse Karlsberg, The Middletuners, Mixashawn, Noah Baerman Trio, Oddfellows Playhouse, RJ and the On-the-Spot Jug Band, Susan Romano, Sirius Coyote, Toussaint Liberator, Wesleyan students and more. 
The Festival was originally scheduled to be produced at Middletown’s landfill until The City of Middletown subsequently withdrew its permission due to safety concerns. The committee researched alternative locations and selected a new location at Veterans Park, a neglected city park within walking distance of campus. Over 2,000 people enjoyed more than 40 performances and visual art installations at the Festival, including two works commissioned for the Festival: Landfill, a photographic installation by Marion Belanger and Green Movement by Ann Carlson. Twenty environmental organizations and vendors participated, and over 100 volunteers worked at the event.


BIOL/DANC/E&ES 109: Feet to the Fire: The Science and Art of Global Warming

Professor of Biology and Earth & Environmental Studies Barry Chernoff co-taught this course with choreographer and dancer Ann M. Carlson. This intensive, interdisciplinary course melded scientific and choreographic inquiry in pursuit of one of the most important topics facing society: climate change due to global warming. The course included both classroom and laboratory sessions that took place at the Middletown landfill. With an emphasis on the body and its relationship with its environment, participants had an opportunity to consider the multiple layers of histories, time and memory layered within the landfill and the continuing impact of this changing environment onthe body.


ECON 148: The Economics of Climate Change

Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies Gary Yohe and choreographer Ann M. Carlson

ARST 436: Architecture II

Assistant Professor of Architecture Elijah Huge, Patricia Brennan, Ph.D. and Kristof Zykowski, Ph.D.

ANTH 232: Alter(ed)native Approaches: Middletown Lives

Assistant Professor of Anthropology Gina Ulysse and printer/bookmaker Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.

E&ES 359: Global Climate Change

Professor of Earth & Environmental Studies and Associate Professor of Art & Art History Tula Telfair

GOVT/EAST 382: Civil Society in Comparative Perspective

Assistant Professor of Government Mary Alice Haddad and choreographer and dancer Eiko Otake

ARHA 362: Issues in Contemporary Art

Adjunct Lecturer in Art & Art History Nina Felshin, Professor of Earth & Environmental Studies Suzanne O'Connell and musician Michael Pestel

DANC 309: Advanced Modern Dance Technique III

Assistant Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio and Professor of Earth & Environmental Studies Barry Chernoff


Marion Belager: Landfill

Marion Belanger's Landfill is a photographic installation that consists of three photographs printed on silk, suspended in trees. It premiered at the Feet to the Fire Festival in May 2008 and was also a featured work in the Zilkha Gallery’s exhibition, Global Warning. Landfill was commissioned by Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and Environmental Studies Program.

Ann Carlson: Green Movement

Ann Carlson's Green Movement incorporates signs, symbols and metaphors emerging from the dialogue around climate change. Issues explored in the work include an examination of what is consumed, what resources we use to live, work, eat, thrive and how that impacts the environment. Green Movement was commissioned by Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and Environmental Studies Program.

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