The Canary Lab develops research-based art and media focused on ecology.

What We Do

Housed within the College of Visual and Performing Arts / Transmedia Department, The Canary Lab hosts a variety of programming, works collaboratively on projects and offers courses open to students across the university.  Each semester, the course focuses on a particular topic (food, shelter, animals, climate change, etc.).  Students read, research and make projects in response to that research often in collaboration with each other. The cross-pollination of ideas result in publications, exhibitions, events, or public interventions designed by the class.

The Lab creates additional programming related to each semester’s themes, including workshops, sponsored speakers, symposia, visiting artists and events. Further, the Lab supports relevant student projects beyond the semester and carries out multiple collaborative projects both within the University and with outside partners. 

How We Define Ecology

We define ecological thinking as understanding interrelatedness through a process of questioning and revealing.  Like Guatarri we believe that there is ecology of ideas just as there is an ecology of plants and animals.  Such thinking is necessary for working through the most pressing problems of our age, such as climate change, species extinction, capital accumulation and poverty.  We believe in the arts as part of the humanities.  We believe in the value of contemplative forms of knowing that complement the sciences. 

Who We Are

The Canary Lab was founded by Edward Morris and Susannah Sayler (Sayler / Morris) who teach in the Department of Transmedia within the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University.

Sayler / Morris use diverse media to investigate and contribute to the development of ecological consciousness. Their work has been exhibited in venues including: MASS MoCA, The Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, The Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, The Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, and the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago, IL)..  Sayler / Morris have been Smithsonian Artist Research Fellows and Artist Fellows at The Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment.  In 2008-2009 Sayler / Morris were both Loeb Fellows at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.  In 2016, they were awarded the 8th Annual David Brower Art/Act Award.

In 2006, Sayler / Morris founded The Canary Project, an international arts collaborative of which The Canary Lab at Syracuse University is a part.   Since 2006 Canary has produced more than 20 projects involving hundreds of artists, designers, scientists, writers and volunteers.

Partners and Support

In 2015-2016, The Canary Lab at SU was supported by the David Rockefeller Fund; the Soling Program, Syracuse University; as well as the Deans Office, the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research and the Transmedia Department at the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Syracuse University.