Blue Skies Still Inspire Pollution Artists Visiting Utah

Feb 17, 2014

Utah’s winter air pollution often entices comparisons to Beijing, a city notorious for having off-the-chart smog levels, which is why a delegation of artists from China and Taiwan are in Salt Lake City this month to let Utah’s inversion inspire them. The project called “Beijing-SLC Connect” invites the artists to compare the pollution problems of these two cities through art.

But when the artists arrived in early February, Salt Lake’s inversion had already mixed out and the air was clean.

“Before I came to Salt Lake City, I heard there is a city that has smog in the United States. I can’t believe it. I thought everywhere in America was clean and beautiful and had a blue sky,” said Dai Dandan, one of the project’s artists. “When I just arrived I saw it’s not that bad.”

So the artists need to use their imaginations to address the issue while they are here. It's not hard for them to do.

For his living gallery project, Beijing artist Huang Xu is painting a kind of sci-fi solution of a city-wide air purifier. It’s not a practical solution, but for Huang Xu a solution created with brushstrokes is just as satisfying.
Credit Beijing-SLC Connect

Matthew Niederhauser is a photographer who lives in Beijing, whose work focuses on documenting China’s rapid development and expansion.

“When the very air that you’re breathing is undermining your health, that’s something that needs to be addressed, either through photojournalism or actually breaking people out of that unconscious acceptance through art,” said Niederhauser.

While state legislators are busy trying to write and pass laws that will help clean up Utah’s air, the visual art being produced in the living gallery this month is supposed to encourage a deeper awareness of the problem.

The artists are working in the Gittins Gallery at the University of Utah every day from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. through February 20th. The public is invited to interact and collaborate with the artists.