When arts and science converge to support awareness about our health

Sep 18, 2012

Last month, one of my daughters began her post- secondary education at  www.questu.ca.  At a unique induction event for students and parents, I listened to the chief academic advisor espouse the benefits of an education — in fact an entire worldview – that integrates  appreciation for the value of both sciences and the arts.

It got me thinking. I make my living applying, with some creativity I hope, the laws of social science to the sector of air quality science so that issues related to air and health can be shared with a variety of audiences. I often consult to health and environment experts and find myself asking them to shift their mindset and consider the social value (the art) of personal interpretation, perspective and experiences.

I am convinced the greatest communication results happen when a challenge can be addressed from both the sciences and the arts. Here is a great example of that premise in action within the environment and health sector – specifically the effect of air pollution on health.

Meet Professor Frank Kelly of the School of Biomedical Science at Kings College UK. He chairs a government medical advisory committee on air pollution.  He also leads the EXHALE study which is investigating the implications of the low emission zone (LEZ) on the lung health of 8-year-olds in east London.

Also meet Drydon Goodwin, an internationally acclaimed artist whose work has been viewed at the National Portrait Gallery.   His most recent work entitled Breathe, is part of an initiative called invisibledust.com  engaging artists to make visible what is often considered invisible – air pollution.  Mr. Goodwin expresses his point through portraits of a child – breathing.  The exhibit will be on display, through a large scale projection, on the roof of a hospital opposite the London House of Commons, each evening from October 8 – 28, 2012.  And half way through the run of this display, the artist himself will present his interpretation of children at work –  breathing – to the Environmental Audit Committee and the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

Just think what the coming together of the science behind the EXHALE study, a display of part of the Invisible Breath project and a presentation to politicians at the House of Commons might do to shift awareness and understanding of the importance of clean air, for the science lovers, art lovers and most importantly, people lovers of London.

Can you imagine how art might advance awareness of air quality in your community?

About Sharon Stevens

Sharon Stevens is the owner and CEO of Airshift Group. Email Sharon Stevens

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *