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Climate Change and Art Collide in The Visible Air: Recent Innovations from the Gymnasium

Aquaminous | ah-KWA-mi-nuhs | adjective

The quality of air just before a rainfall; origin: the Latin aqua, meaning water, and ominous, meaning foreboding.

-Mo Perry

Excerpts from The Language of Air, on view at The McKnight Foundation

“Aquaminous” is just one of dozens of new words created for The Language of Air, a crowd-sourced dictionary comprising invented terms to describe qualities of air. It is part of the new exhibition The Visible Air: Recent Innovations from the Gymnasium at the Cynthia Binger Boynton Gallery. The dictionary is meant to expand the ways in which we can think about and discuss air, asking participants and readers alike to ponder the question, “If we were more equipped to describe air, would we take better care of it?”

The Visible Air showcases three series of artworks created through a collaborative process by creative minds from diverse disciplines, including artists, designers, writers, and even an organic chemist. The Language of Air, described above; the AirBooth, which invites participants to step inside its sculptural rendering to experience the air around them and connect with other AirBooths across the world; and a video game called “Climate Rage,” which lets players battle to either preserve a way of life or harness the power to change it. All three works engage viewers in exploring their relationship to the air and the complex climate systems it is part of.

Installation view of the Air Booth, part of the Visible Air exhibition

The exhibition brings together concepts and challenges at play in two of McKnight’s program areas, Arts and Midwest Climate & Energy. The Arts program, which aims to support working artists to create and contribute to vibrant communities, is founded on the belief that Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive. The Midwest Climate & Energy program seeks to make the Midwest region a recognized national and international leader in addressing climate change by achieving energy-related greenhouse emission reductions in all sectors of the economy, which cannot be achieved without building the durable public will needed to drive change in public policy and the private sector.

Climate change is a complex and daunting issue which can seem far removed from daily life.  We see the connective power of art and artists as integral to engaging the public with the issue at a personal level, by starting with the air around them and the actions they can take to make a difference.

About the creators

The Gymnasium brings together creative people from in and out of the arts to innovate. Founded by artists Irve Dell, Shawn McConneloug, Kira Obolensky, and Robert Rosen, The Gymnasium creates a space for cross-disciplinary collaboration, helping us rise to the challenges facing us in the 21st century. The Gymnasium is a project of McKnight arts grantee Studio 206, a creative workspace committed to supporting artists in exploring new ground in performance and art, a place to ask questions and take risks.

Topic: Arts & Culture, Midwest Climate & Energy

August 2015