Coesistere Focus Fellowship

Adam Frelin

Adam Frelin is 2017's recipient of the CoEsistere Focus Fellowship, awarded an artist of any discipline whose work explores human population growth and its impact on wildlife.


Adam Frelin (b.1973, Grove City, PA) has shown widely at venues such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Getty Research Institute, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. He has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and the College Art Association. Frelin has completed residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, MacDowell Colony, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Ucross Foundation, Fine Arts Work Center, and Yaddo, among others. He has published two books of photography and has had several artworks commissioned throughout the world. In 2016, Adam served as lead artist on Breathing Lights, a multi-city, temporary public art installation that involves illuminating hundreds of abandoned buildings with a breathing effect created with light. Frelin received a BFA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and an MFA University of California, San Diego. Currently he is an Associate Professor of art at the SUNY University at Albany, and lives in Troy, NY.


For two months in fall 2016, Breathing Lights illuminated the street-facing windows of hundreds of vacant buildings in the neighboring cities of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, NY. Warm light filled each window with a diffuse glow that pulses with the gentle rhythm of human breathing. Concentrated in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods with high vacancy rates, these installations  transformed vacant structures from pockets of shadows into places of warmth. This massive installation helped illuminate the region’s struggle with vacancy and its effects on residents and neighborhood economies, and regenerated interest in once-vibrant communities.

Funded through a $1 million Bloomberg Philanthropies "Public Art Challenge" grant, Breathing Lights was led by Adam Frelin as lead artist, and architect Barbara Nelson. This project brought together local architects, students, engineers, artists, and product developers to design and install custom light instruments. Illumination kits consisted of miniature LED strip lights bound in adhesive fabric, affixed to interior window frames. The lights shined through windows covered in diffusion material, powered and controlled by batteries. In a region that pioneered electricity, a project centered on lighting technology infuses the installation with history and place.


AIR Serenbe supports artists of every discipline through our Focus Fellowship awards, nominated annually by our National Advisory Council—esteemed peers and experts in the field.  Focus Fellowships provide the opportunity for individuals, corporations, and other organizations to directly support artists and their influence on building healthy, creative communities. Funders of these awards have the chance to name the fellowship and to work closely with AIR Serenbe to determine what kind of artists (discipline, geography, demographic, subject) the fellowship will serve.  

To learn more about establishing a Focus Fellowship, contact AIR Serenbe Executive Director Brandon Hinman at