Snowmass artist to use pollution-made ink for climate billboard project | AspenTimes.com
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Snowmass artist to use pollution-made ink for climate billboard project

Roughly 20,000 hours of captured carbon dioxide emissions. More than 770 liters of ink produced. Over 1,000 pieces of art created.

These are some of the stats that describe AIR-INK, a black ink made entirely out of air pollution.

An innovation born out of Graviky Labs, a group started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that aims to “up-cycle carbon emissions for global sustainability through new material innovation,” AIR-INK is captured as soot via a contraption that attaches to fossil fuel emitters, namely diesel car tail pipes in India, China and Europe; purified so it is safe to use; then put in the hands of artists and creatives as pens and paint.

And for four artists in the Roaring Fork Valley, the pollution-made pens are helping them create climate change-focused billboards as part of this winter’s Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) Imagine Climate project.

“What’s fascinating to us is that this is a way to offset carbon emissions through art,” said Lara Whitely, the brand and creative strategy director with CORE.

“So previously, we’ve presented art, whether it’s visual art or film or hip-hop or environmental art or live storytelling, but none of it has ever actually used the problem as the solution.”

For 26 years, CORE has worked to collaborate with Roaring Fork Valley stakeholders to help them save energy and mitigate climate change by cutting carbon emissions.

Through its annual, month-long Imagine Climate project, Whitley said CORE’s goal is to “get beyond the choir,” using creative partnerships with valley art centers, faith-based organizations and other nonprofits to get a broader group of people outside environmental circles engaging in climate change conversations in new ways.

This year’s Imagine Climate will include a top 10 climate reading list curated by Aspen Words, a climate mental health panel with ACES and Aspen Chapel, a visual arts exhibition presented by Skye Gallery and Ether Arts, a live sonic performance at the Aspen Center for Physics, and more.

“In order for us to mitigate climate change, we need to inspire and empower more people to take more action and take it faster, so we’re always trying to broaden our base and expand the community,” Whitley explained.

“The way this creative strategy works is first you capture the imagination to capture the participation, and so we try to infuse that kind of creativity in everything that we do.”

Through the Imagine Climate Billboard Project specifically, Whitley said four large art pieces crafted with AIR-INK will feature climate change and environment-related imagery with a “This art was made from carbon emissions” slogan written in English and Spanish.

The billboards will be placed in visible locations up and down the valley, including in front of The Collective in Snowmass.

Kelly Peters, a visual artist based in Snowmass and founder of the new Straight Line Studio in Base Village, will be crafting the village’s billboard, using the mountain-scapes she’s known for to guide her.

A Michigan native who moved to the valley over four years ago and has been painting and drawing most of her life, Peters said she’s been in talks with CORE and the town of Snowmass for months in preparation for the billboard project.

She plans to freehand her piece with the AIR-INK pens provided, and feels through her work she can juxtapose the negatives of climate change by using the air pollution ink with the beauty of the environment Snowmass locals call home.

“It’s all about spreading awareness,” Peters said, noting she thinks the project is a really cool way to get people into the environment and loves AIR-INK as a medium. She plans to continue to use it in her work moving forward beyond Imagine Climate.

“When people see my billboard, I hope they see that we live in a beautiful place and it opens the door to deeper thinking.”

On Feb. 25, Peters’ Imagine Climate piece will debut in Snowmass, and Feb. 26 a billboard-project kickoff party will take place in The Collective, including short talks from artists and even a “lab” experience where people can learn more about AIR-INK.

Anirudh Sharma, co-founder of Graviky Labs and AIR-INK, also will be at the kickoff to talk about the ink and how he and his team are dedicated to taking pollutants that millions of people could be breathing and turning them into a safe, artistic medium.

“I used to think the sheer scale of this issue can make us feel powerless. But when you connect ideas with passion and creativity, amazing things are possible,” Sharma said in a video about AIR-INK.

“That fusion of art, that fusion of expression, and science when it happens, I think new magic appears.”

Peters’ billboard will be on display in Snowmass Base Village from Feb. 25 through March 18. For more information on the Climate Billboard Project and to see the full Imagine Climate lineup of events, visit aspencore.org/imagine-climate-2020. mvincent@aspentims.com


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