Monday, November 2, 2015

Artist Cathy Allen's NURP

Cathy Allen, an art professor at Copper Mountain College, and a Wonder Valley resident of 22 years, has been working on a development project, of sorts. Allen calls it Non-Urban Renewal Project or NURP. Her dwellings are popping up all over the landscape, though I have yet to see one in person.

Here's a picture of one of my favorites, a sort of gothic hut. The dwellings are made of whatever materials Allen finds at a site. They are held together with only intention and gravity and strong winds may return them to their native state.

Non-Urban Renewal Project (NURP), Dwelling #13. Photo: Cathy Allen
Allen was at the Palms community breakfast on Sunday and passed around a prototype of an artist's book that included an artist's statement and a map!

Most people were excited about Allen's project, but not everyone. One long time resident complained that people come out to the desert thinking they can do whatever they like and that this project might encourage that attitude, as well as providing temporary shelter for people up to no good. The ephemeral nature and remote sitings of these shelters make that unlikely.

Allen remembers the little people in NURP dwelling, miniature series # 9. Photo: Cathy Allen
Some art professors coast on their laurels and feel that they do enough just teaching. I admire Allen for continuing to work prodigiously, in the landscape in which she lives, addressing timely issues of land use, shelter, people in place, and gentrification.