Mierle Laderman Ukeles The Artists Sifting Through Your City’s Garbage

Hyperallergic May 30, 2024

When New York City-based artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles became the first artist-in-residence at the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), the position was an anomaly. In 1977, the concept of an arts residency at a waste facility was unexplored territory, even for Ukeles, then a full-time mother whose own art career was rooted in nonconformity. Still, despite its peculiarity — or perhaps because of it — Ukeles gladly accepted the offer, and nearly 50 years later, she is still the city agency’s official (unsalaried) resident artist while other municipal sanitation departments around the country have followed in her footsteps by establishing arts programs of their own.

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