Are we growing more than plants? This question — blown up in large pink letters on a white wall in a small gallery on the Lower East Side — frames the core of the Amplify exhibition. Like the Lower East Side, the exhibition, which is the product of over one year of planning, research and design, is undergoing a process of evolution and reinvention. The larger initiative, Amplifying Creative Communities, pioneered by the Design for Sustainability and Social Innovation (DESIS) Lab at Parsons The New School for Design, represents the first stage of a multi-year project made possible, in part, by the Cultural Innovation Fund of the Rockefeller Foundation.
As one of the installation’s curators, Lara Penin, an Assistant Professor in the Design and Management department at Parsons, describes it, “The exhibition is a research process, a process of interaction in which the content can change before, during and after the exhibit.” So, like the plants on display at the exhibition that need to be watered in order to survive the August heat, the exhibition is designed to grow. The gallery offers a number of points of interaction where participants can contribute ideas, offer suggestions and “vote” on their favorite examples of sustainability and social innovation from around the world.