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Outdoor Installation by Paul Villinski Makes Its Debut at Wesleyan University's Zilkha Gallery
Though designed as an artist's studio and residence, Emergency Response Studio is an ingenious prototype for self-sufficient, solar-powered mobile housing. Photo: Paul Villinski.
MIDDLETOWN, CT. Emergency Response Studio was inspired by artist Paul Villinski's visit to post-Katrina New Orleans in August 2006. He wished he could transport his studio from New York to the Lower Ninth Ward to create work in response to the conditions he found. Instead, he created Emergency Response Studio by playfully rethinking and transforming a 30-foot Gulfstream Cavalier trailer, virtually identical to the 50,000 trailers built for FEMA, into a rolling, off-the-grid live/work space that can house displaced artists or allow visiting artists to “embed” in post-disaster settings.

Though designed as an artist's studio and residence, Emergency Response Studio is an ingenious prototype for self-sufficient, solar-powered mobile housing. 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. The structure is entirely powered by a 1.6 kilowatt solar system and a “micro” wind turbine mounted on a 40’ high mast.

Emergency Response Studio will be installed outdoors, near Wesleyan University’s Zilkha Gallery from September 11–November 8, 2009. Simultaneously and inside the gallery, a visually engaging installation, Emergency Response Studio: Process, will look at the ideas, materials, and construction that went into realizing ERS. It will feature 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 opposite the life-size mock-up, shows initial plans for what ERS might become. A reading table offers additional information selected by Villinski on movable housing as well as green technology and building materials.

The public is also invited to attend the opening reception on Friday, September 11 from 5–7pm, with an artist’s talk at 5:30pm. Gallery Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, noon–4pm; Friday noon–8pm.

Paul Villinski was born in York, Maine in 1960. He received a BFA with honors from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York in 1984. Villinski's ERS has been exhibited on two other occasions, most recently at the Rice University Art Gallery in Houston, TX (2009) and in the Prospect.1: New Orleans Biennial (2008), for which it was originally created. His work was also represented in Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary, the inaugural exhibition of the Museum of Arts and Design, New York earlier this year. Paul Villinski lives and works in New York City.

Historically, Villinski's work has been concerned with the transformation of discarded, “worthless” objects into objects of new meaning and beauty. He employs materials that have potent, sometimes troubling associations in the original form and adds layers of new, often contrasting, meaning by endowing them with fresh, unexpected form.

Zilkha Gallery | FEMA | Wesleyan University | Katrina | New Orleans | Paul Villinski |

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