News Release: Arts and Humanities, Events, Student Life, Sustainability

Oct. 20,  2011

John Grade to Build Biodegradable Sculptures in Atlanta

News Article Imagefrom Collector by John Grade

Environmental artist John Grade comes to Atlanta as an Emory University artist-in-residence Nov. 6-19 to design and build large-scale sculptural installations using biodegradable materials. His project, "Piedmont Divide" will visually and conceptually link two Emory locations: the main "Quadrangle" and Lullwater Preserve. Using materials derived from indigenous plants and trees, Grade will relate the form and construction method of the two installations to Emory’s research on West Nile virus and worldwide water sustainability.

During his visit, the Emory Visual Arts Gallery will function as a working studio, available to the public as "Piedmont Divide" unfolds. The Atlanta and Emory communities are invited to participate as volunteers on the project. Grade’s residency also includes a follow-up visit in the spring to oversee the disassembly of the sculpture, as part of a larger creative arts performance. A schedule of events, discussions and volunteer opportunities will be available by October 20 at

"Piedmont Divide" will draw the public’s attention to water as a scarce resource. Collaborating with arts and environmental studies faculty, Grade and the project will highlight important conversations between science and art—with the goal of bringing environmental awareness to the Emory and Atlanta communities. The project is sponsored by Emory University’s Visual Arts Department, Center for Creativity & Arts, Hightower Fund, Dance Department, Religion Department, Office of Sustainability Initiatives, and the Department of Environmental Studies.

A recipient of numerous awards, Grade’s work has garnered international recognition for both its beauty and use of non-invasive materials. His sculptures are shaped by natural landscapes, often changing form throughout their lifespans. One example is his 2007 wooden sculpture, "Collector," which was submerged in Washington’s Willapa Bay, where it acted as an oyster bed. After the oysters were eaten by Grade and friends, the tusk-like forms were transported on the grill of Grade’s pick-up truck to a slot canyon in Little Death Hollow, Utah. There, covered with insects from the ride, it was washed clean by flooding. View his portfolio at


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