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Sara Mead


As a native Philadelphian I have spent countless hours on Septa’s public transportation, moving throughout different areas of the city and western suburbs. Those who travel west past 40th street know that the Market Frankford becomes an elevated train, overlooking the barren, black tar roofs of West Philadelphia. Often described as the “forgotten fifth façade,” the dismal roofscape was a constant source of unrest for me. I felt that through the use of green roofs we could better integrate nature and the built environment in a way that improved the aesthetics of the urban landscape, while providing urban dwellers with the mental and physical benefits of nature.

For my Visual Studies senior thesis project I decided to create an installation that combined my interest in plants, artistic education, and ability to visually communicate, while promoting commitment to improving access to nature and green spaces within the local level of Penn’s community. I designed a site-specific piece to be installed in the Fox Gallery, based on the architectural features of the Annenberg Plaza, a space I felt could aesthetically benefit from additional greening. The sculptural and experiential installation consists of eight elevated (to between 3-feet and 5-feet) platforms, planted with plants typically used on green roofs.

As a sculptural installation, inspired by Land and Eco-Artists my work will function as a Non-Site, incorporating the formal elements of color and texture to engage the viewer in a sensory and experiential interior landscape. I hope that my innovative use of plants within a constructed structure will suggest to the viewer ways of reinserting nature into the built environment (specifically through the use of green roofs), inspiring them to find ways of altering the spaces they live in to include more natural elements.

SECTOR C: Art Practice and Technology