In 2019 and 2020, Via worked with the City of Alexandria, Virginia’s Office of the Arts, in collaboration with AlexRenew, a special-purpose wastewater authority, to develop the AlexRenew Public Art Residency. The residency was designed to invite artists to engage deeply with the work of AlexRenew and its RiverRenew project, a major infrastructure investment to mitigate combined sewer outflows. We developed a project plan outlining the goals for the residency, the working relationship between the two agencies, and the structure of the residency. We also worked with the Public Art Program and AlexRenew to manage the selection of New York-based artist sTo Len and helped facilitate sTo’s work as the artist in residence.
During his residency, sTo created a new series of artwork entitled RENEWAL. RENEWAL aims to renew our relationship to local water by providing an opportunity for the public to engage with waterfront sites in new ways that both raise awareness of and engagement with the city’s water, especially areas connected to the future location of AlexRenew’s RiverRenew project. sTo developed his work through time spent at AlexRenew’s wastewater treatment plant learning about how wastewater is treated, where it comes from, where it goes, and its role in Alexandria’s ecosystem. Working with scientists, engineers, and conservationists, sTo developed a unique understanding of Alexandria’s water systems and created RENEWAL to share and learn more with the community.