Emergency Response Studio Inspired by Hurricane Katrina Disaster

Nina Felshin, curator of exhibitions at the Center for the Arts, and Camille Parente, financial analyst/gallery coordinator, examine the Emergency Response Studio installed on the Center for the Arts green. The studio was inspired by artist Paul Villinski's visit to New Orleans, La. in August 2006 after Hurricane Katrina.

Nina Felshin, curator of exhibitions at the Center for the Arts, and Camille Parente, financial analyst/gallery coordinator, examine the Emergency Response Studio installed on the Center for the Arts green. The studio was inspired by artist Paul Villinski's visit to New Orleans, La. in August 2006 after Hurricane Katrina.

Though designed as an artist's studio and residence, Emergency Response Studio is an ingenious prototype for self-sufficient, solar-powered mobile housing.

Though designed as an artist's studio and residence, Emergency Response Studio is an ingenious prototype for self-sufficient, solar-powered mobile housing.

Emergency Response Studio is a transformed 30-foot Gulfstream Cavalier trailer, virtually identical to the 50,000 trailers built for FEMA.  Working continuously from April to October 2008, Villinski transformed the trailer's formaldehyde-ridden materials with green technology and building materials, including recycled denim insulation, bamboo cabinetry, compact fluorescent lighting, reclaimed wood, and floor tiles made from linseed oil.

Emergency Response Studio is a transformed 30-foot Gulfstream Cavalier trailer, virtually identical to the 50,000 trailers built for FEMA. Working continuously from April to October 2008, Villinski transformed the trailer's formaldehyde-ridden materials with green technology and building materials, including recycled denim insulation, bamboo cabinetry, compact fluorescent lighting, reclaimed wood, and floor tiles made from linseed oil.

Artist Paul Villinski cranks open one of the studio's walls, which doubles as a workbench and desk. "The Emergency Response Studio would allow artists to stay in a post-disaster setting, work, document and add to the mix," Villinski says about his design.

Artist Paul Villinski cranks open one of the studio's walls, which doubles as a workbench and desk. "The Emergency Response Studio would allow artists to stay in a post-disaster setting, work, document and add to the mix," Villinski says about his design.

The fully-operational kitchen is made of bamboo cabinetry.

The fully-operational kitchen is made of bamboo cabinetry.

Historically, Villinski's work has been concerned with the transformation of discarded, "worthless" objects into objects of new meaning and beauty.

Historically, Villinski's work has been concerned with the transformation of discarded, "worthless" objects into objects of new meaning and beauty.

The studio is equipped with a bedroom, shower and bathroom.

The studio is equipped with a bedroom, shower and bathroom.

The structure is entirely powered by a 1.6 kilowatt solar system and a "micro" wind turbine mounted on a 40’-foot high mast.

The structure is entirely powered by a 1.6 kilowatt solar system and a "micro" wind turbine mounted on a 40’-foot high mast.

The studio is insulated with recycled denim, as seen from the ceiling.

The studio is insulated with recycled denim, as seen from the ceiling.

An accompanying exhibit, titled "Emergency Response Studio: Process," in Zilkha Gallery, looks at the ideas, materials, and construction that went into realizing ERS. It features a full-scale mockup of a 30-foot FEMA trailer that viewers can enter to experience the confining nature of the trailer's interior prior to the artist's transformation. A scale model of the life-size mockup, shows initial plans for what ERS might become.

An accompanying exhibit, titled "Emergency Response Studio: Process," in Zilkha Gallery, looks at the ideas, materials, and construction that went into realizing ERS. It features a full-scale mockup of a 30-foot FEMA trailer that viewers can enter to experience the confining nature of the trailer's interior prior to the artist's transformation. A scale model of the life-size mockup, shows initial plans for what ERS might become.

The studio and exhibit will open noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 11. The opening reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 11 with an artist's talk at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

The studio and exhibit opened Sept. 11. The exhibit is free and open to the public. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

Olivia Drake

Olivia (M.A.L.S. '08) is editor of the Wesleyan Connection newsletter and campus photographer. I have two dogs, five chickens and 30 house plants. I like snow, photographing firemen and enjoying "stinky" cheeses. Send me your story ideas to newsletter@wesleyan.edu. 

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