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Detail of poster for LifeYard Project

“Lifeyards affirms what is precious and remind us of what we could stand to lose if we do not create Life without war. If graveyards are monuments to the life that was, Lifeyards celebrate the Life that is.”

Lifeyards was conceived by Alan Gussow, artist, activist, and formerly president of the Friends of the Earth Foundation. After reading Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth, Alan was inspired to create this collaborative concept to gather artists in communities across the country to respond to the threat of nuclear war. The Berkshires Lifeyard was one of five.

Sponsored by the Farmbarns School for Experimentation in Art and the Uniterra Foundation, a planning committee was formed asking Alan to advise us and make the initial presentation to artists throughout the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. It was determined that we would host a call for entrees for the month of July, 1983, for artistic structures for outdoor display that would ultimately end up in a vacant lot on North Street of Pittsfield, Mass. Thirty Five artists of numerous disciplines participated: totems by painters, sculptors, filmmakers, weavers, potters, photographers of the Berskhires and Hudson Valley. A dedication celebration brought together poets, writers, musicians, and dancers, addressing an audience of about 200 people.

The approach to publicity for the Lifeyards Project was through carefully crafted press releases and direct connection with a local art critic

Alan Gussow with Jean, 1984

beforehand to educate him as to the purpose of this collaborative art event. As it turned out, The Berkshire Eagle printed letters of response throughout the following month, a record for the newspaper.

And as a result of this highly successful project, artists throughout the Berkshires who had previously operated in a typical competitive environment, had now ventured into a realm of sharing and expressing a deep concern and passion together. I have been told this altered the spirit of the art community in the Berkshires.