if that would happen…

Dr. Natalie Jeremijenko and the Environmental Action Clinic


Have you recently experienced a heightened awareness of environmental concerns? Common symptoms may include: nausea, depression, feelings of helplessness, and increased fear of the words “polar,” “ice,” and “caps.” While there is as yet no cure for this condition, specialist Dr. Natalie Jeremijenko, of NYU’s Environmental Health Clinic, might be able to help. Since the clinic’s launch in February, Dr. Jeremijenko, along with her trained assistants, has been addressing the environmental anxieties of its visitors.

To be clear, Jeremijenko, 40, has a Ph.D., not an M.D. And the project is run under the auspices of NYU’s Art Department, not the School of Public Health. Her credentials as an artist and environ-mental activist, however, are solid. Since arriving in America in 1994, the Australian-born artist and engineer has been producing work that harnesses technology to make people’s interactions with the natural world more, well, interactive.

When visitors come to the clinic with an environmental health concern—like children’s exposure to lead—the clinic’s specialists don’t simply trot out advice about limiting exposure to paint chips (it’s a conceptual art project, not a health provider). “What differs,” says Jeremijenko, “is that you walk out with a prescription not for pharmaceuticals, but for actions and … referrals to interesting art, design, and participatory projects.” Concern about lead in the neighborhood might call for a prescription for planting sunflowers to detoxify the soil in the park where children play. The clinic then might ask for samples of the flowers to determine how many chemicals the plants had absorbed, while keeping detailed records that are available to the public. “The data is precisely not private—it has to do with the shared space, air, water, and environmental systems we inhabit.”

from Good Magazine : http://www.goodmagazine.com/section/Portraits/mad_scientist