Breath Work (artist project)

Video by Artist in Residence, Nina Sarnelle @ninasarnelle

Breath Work is an experimental opera/video essay exploring air quality in Long Beach with a group of community collaborators. 

A new collaboration between Long Beach Forward and artist Nina Sarnelle has begun with relationship building and video portraiture. Sarnelle has been welcomed into the daily work at LBF, learning about grassroots organizing and the campaigns that are critical to the community. They are using their video skills to support existing projects like L.B. In Your City News and advocacy around the ordinance to legalize street vending in Long Beach. These efforts to learn about the community and build relationships are the first steps toward deeper collaboration, and will continue alongside the Breath Work project.

About Breath Work

Who can breathe freely
and who cannot?

When we vocalize, we share and transform air, placing our bodies into critical relation to one another and the non-human world. Breath Work is an experimental community opera/video essay exploring air quality in Long Beach. Shot on location in landscapes filled with oil pumps and refineries, freeway and shipping infrastructure, this performative work will be devised with a cast and crew of local collaborators, and woven together with research into the interconnected histories of redlining, police violence & environmental racism that continue to impact the lives of low income people of color in this area. 

  • The process will begin with a series of open workshops and outreach strategies designed to start conversations, collect community input, and give an introduction to the project, process and how to get involved.
  • Then we will issue an open call for community collaborators, who will be compensated for filling positions performing and producing alongside Nina Sarnelle.
  • This group will meet once a week for filmed rehearsals and interventions experimenting with collective vocal work (the process is the product).
  • Rehearsal footage will be edited together with statements collected during the open workshops, as well as additional context from historical sources, environmental & medical research, to create a complex portrait of breath in relation to neighborhood geography, race & class.
  • The film will be screened as part of a community celebration in Long Beach, as well as in future venues in LA and beyond. 

This activity is funded in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency.

How To Get Involved

Introductory Workshops

You’re invited to a vocal workshop focused on air quality in Long Beach. All ages 10+ welcome (minors must have a guardian present), no skills or prior experience needed. Come listen, breathe, share your thoughts and experiment with singing and making sounds together.


  • Saturday, February 10th from 1pm-3pm (At Capacity)
  • Sunday, Feb 18, from 2-4pm 

*Attendees will receive a $20 gift card after the workshop!*

At this introductory workshop you will learn about the Breath Work video project led by Long Beach Forward’s artist-in-residence Nina Sarnelle. After attending one of the two introductory workshop dates, interested participants may apply for a paid position in Sarnelle’s community opera, which will be created during 8 weekly sessions in March & April at Long Beach Forward. 
 Applications now closed.


Apply for a PAID POSITION as a collaborator in a new video project focused on air quality in Long Beach. Breath Work is a community “opera” led by artist Nina Sarnelle exploring new ways of using our voices together.  Come share, learn, and make an impact in your community through video, sound & environmental justice! 

 Applications now closed.

Long Beach Forward is honored to receive the Nonprofit Creative Corps grant to continue our work serving the greater Los Angeles community and contribute to the region’s creative economy.

This project has been created in partnership with the Arts Council of Long Beach and the California Arts Council.

Contact Us

Contact Artist Nina Sarnelle

Learn more about the Arts Council of Long Beach and join the conversation online: 

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Read More About this Artist Project

Click the image to read Artist Nina’s proposal and see environmental justice resources (pdf).

About Our Artist in Residence, Nina Sarnelle

Nina Sarnelle (they/she) makes research projects, participatory performances, music composition, video, and many experiments in pedagogy and collectivity. They facilitate somatic, improvisational & vocal workshops, including many with Selwa Sweidan under the collaborative project Touch Praxis. Her work explores conditions of neocolonialism, environmental injustice and labor exploitation in strange and intimate ways, often rooted in specific sites like the oil drilling wells near her house, a former Nike Missile silo turned into a basketball court, or the shifting sands of “Silicon Beach.” During their residency at Long Beach Forward, they ask: how can somatic practices based in play, improvisation and collaboration function to activate anti-oppression work?

Sarnelle earned a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, and attended the Creative Center’s Arts-In-Healthcare and Creative Aging Training Institute in 2020. That same year they had a solo video exhibition at the New Museum. Her work has also shown at Whitechapel Gallery (London), Hammer Museum (LA), Getty Center (LA), Ballroom Marfa (TX), MoMA (NY), Istanbul Modern (Turkey), Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (Berlin),  Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology (Lisbon), Fundacion PROA (Buenos Aires), Black Cube (Denver), UNSW Galleries (Sydney), Project 88 (Mumbai), Kevin Space (Vienna), Mwoods (Beijing), and Human Resources (LA).