The Art of Air Pollution on Display at NCAR

The Art of Air Pollution on Display at NCAR

Smog Collector Plates

We are pleased to host part of a multimedia exhibit called “the invisible connectedness of things” by artist Kim Abeles at the NCAR Mesa Lab. If you are in or near Boulder, Colorado, we hope you visit.

Having Kim’s art on display at NCAR, a lab where researchers are studying the atmosphere, is quite apropos. Combining art and science Kim’s artwork is part of the conversation about air quality.

Kim, a Los Angeles-based artist, doesn’t think art and science are that different. They are both about collecting, organizing, and presenting data, she noted during her talk at the exhibit opening. Both art and science are about curiosity, and they both involve a willingness to mess up and get dirty, she explained.

For part of the exhibit, Kim worked with middle school students to capture and create art from smog. They placed stencils on white dinner plates, placed those plates on the school’s roof. Seven months later the stencils were removed and smog images composed of particles that had settled out of the atmosphere were left on the plates. Unappetizing, yet beautiful.

Along with the pollution-coated plates, the exhibit includes a wall of video, large-scale photos, puzzles, paintings, and to capture the multifaceted ways in which air pollution affects people and ecosystems.

Kim’s photo and video pieces feature close images of lichens - fungi and symbiotic alga or cyanobacteria that become collectors of air pollution. Long lived and exposed to the elements, lichen concentrate the pollution within their cells. Kim’s digital images combine lichens with some of the sources of air pollution - people and their cars and trucks, in particular.

The main exhibit is at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History with satellite exhibits at our NCAR Mesa Lab and Air Care Colorado through August 8, 2012. Thanks to EcoArts Connections, which commissioned the exhibit.