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Christo to Keynote Five College Riverscaping Conference

Monday, March 26, 2012

An international conference on the art, history, and science of the river will open on April 19 with celebrated artist Christo speaking at Smith College's John M. Green Hall.

Christo's latest project, an installation planned for the summer of 2015, will involve suspending nearly six miles of luminous fabric panels over a 42-mile stretch of the upper Arkansas River in Colorado. The project, while controversial, has received federal and state approval.

The April 19-22 Five College Riverscaping Conference will also include lectures, gallery openings, student poster sessions, and a two-day symposium opened by Jonathan Lash, Hampshire College president and former president of the World Resources Institute. President Lash will open Saturday's symposium sessions with his comments on "Why the River Matters."

The entire conference, including Christo's address, will be free and open to the public, but online registration is required.

Schedule and registration >>
The conference marks the conclusion of the 18-month Five College Riverscaping project, funded in large part by a grant from the American Delegation to the European Union and in partnership with river experts from Hamburg, Germany.

Aimed at developing sustainable approaches to reconnecting people with the river, Riverscaping has brought together students, policy makers, artists, academics, entrepreneurs, and environmentalists in a series of "laboratories." The laboratories focused on Massachusetts' stretch of the Connecticut River and the Elbe River in Hamburg.
Other highlights of the Friday and Saturday symposium include papers by designers, scientists, and scholars from around the world, including Jinnai Hidenobou of Hosei University in Tokyo, Johan Varekamp of Wesleyan University, and T.S. McMillin of Oberlin College and author of The Meaning of Rivers. A student session takes place on Friday evening and a performance of music and readings on Saturday.

Self-guided tours of area museums and galleries featuring the art, history, and science of the river are built into the four-day conference. Sunday will include a session highlighting winners of the Riverscaping design-build competition, who have created plans for installations in key spots along the Connecticut River. The symposium will conclude with key participants from throughout the project, including the Hamburg partners, gathering to reassess Riverscaping's objectives and plan for future collaborations.

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