What, you may ask, do artists really do for society? In the case of artist Bridget Quinn, and her friend Jula Osten, they thwarted a potential public health crisis: Last month, they discovered and alerted authorities about “off-the-charts” E. coli bacteria counts in two locations discovered along the Red Run Drain in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Quinn made this discovery in the course of her art practice, which centers on the exploration of “marginal” spaces. Since moving to Warren last year, Quinn has struggled to find beauty in what she describes as an “overbuilt” environment, designed as a company town during the peak of white flight out of Detroit. Quinn’s efforts have included collecting and categorizing weeds and invasive species from her backyard and other untended green spaces, as well as trying to track down the creeks and running water in the city, most of which, she discovered, have long been running underground through miles-long tunnels and drainage systems.