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The WORK of Art

Artist visualizes air quality through data-driven dress

Photo of artist Dominique Paul working with students at Meyzeek Middle school. 

Photo of artist Dominique Paul working with students at Meyzeek Middle school. 

Dominique Paul, a multi-site artist in residence, will lead an Air Walk on June 12 in downtown Louisville, using wearable art and an Air Beam monitor to illustrate changes in air quality from block to block. When the Air Beam monitor indicates changes in particulate matter, lights that make up the wearable garment change color. Particulate matter is one of the five air pollutants tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency and has been linked to many health problems, including asthma, heart attacks, and cancer. In Louisville, everyone is affected by particulate matter-  in the 2017 American Lung Association State of the Air Report, Louisville received a C grade resulting from days with unhealthy levels of particulate matter in the air.

During the one-hour walk along major downtown streets, we will stop at the Kentucky International Convention Center construction site, Fourth Street Live and bus stops. Participants will hear from Meyzeek Middle School students, who will share personal stories about asthma and air quality in their neighborhoods. The Air Walk marks Paul’s second visit to Louisville. In April, Paul, along with Christopher Rasheed, a teacher at Meyzeek Middle School, and students used art to discuss air quality and its effects on human health.

“It was amazing to see how my students responded to Paul’s wearable art,” said Christopher Rasheed, sixth grade Language Arts teacher at Meyzeek Middle School. “When she first entered the classroom, some of them asked if Lady Gaga had just entered the building! Her presence immediately engaged the students in dialogue about the correlation between air quality and asthma related issues. They were able to visualize the data prior to conducting the analysis. This past school year, I have had several guest speakers, presenters and musicians collaborate with me to enhance the pedagogy. What made Paul’s presentation unique was her talent for blending art with science. A lot of work went into conducting the research, analyzing and juxtaposing data, identifying commonalities, sharing stories, writing papers, brainstorming and creating art pieces to reflect the learning outcomes. As a result, a year-long series of artist residencies have been inspired that will explore healthy air, water, and soil with Meyzeek students.”

Photo of artist Dominique Paul working with students at Meyzeek Middle school by Josh Miller.

Photo of artist Dominique Paul working with students at Meyzeek Middle school by Josh Miller.

Veronica Combs, Executive Director of the Institute for Healthy Air Water and Soil, is excited to have Paul’s artistic talent bring attention to the issue of air quality.

“Air pollution is literally an invisible problem in Louisville – particulate matter is much smaller than a human hair,” Combs said. “Dominique and her dress will change the conversation about the state of our air and how we can clean it up to protect human health.”

The walk is organized by IDEAS xLab and the Institute for Healthy Air Water and Soil. IDEAS xLab is hosting Paul during a four-week residency in Louisville sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Based in Montreal, Paul has lead awareness walks in other cities including New York City. Most recently she programmed her dress with income data. As she walked from neighborhood to neighborhood, the lights on her dress reflected the average income of the residents. In low income neighborhoods, one or two rings of light lit up. In richer neighborhoods, her entire dress lit up. She interviewed people during the walk to explain her dress and discuss changing places.  NYC walk video The public is invited to join the walk. We will meet at 11:45am on the steps of Metro Hall. The walk will begin at 12pm (Noon) and will last approximately 60 minutes.

After the Air Walk, a FREE lunch will be provided for 25 people at Metro Hall, and will include stories by Meyzeek students related to air quality and asthma, and conversation facilitated by Paul and Rasheed. To RSVP for lunch, please click here.

Air Walk + Walk Details:
Date: June 12, 2017
Time: Gather at 11:45am, Walk begin at 12pm (Noon), Lunch provided at 1pm for the first 25 people who RSVP.
Address: Metro Hall - 527 W Jefferson St, Louisville, KY 40202

Dominique Paul

Dominique Paul (b. 1967) lives and works in New York (USA) and Montreal (Canada) where she received a Doctorate in the Study and Practice of Arts from the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada (2009). Since 2002, she has presented more than 20 solo exhibitions in North America and Europe. In 2012, Paul was awarded an artist in residence with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) on Governors Island. In 2015, she had a residency with Residency Unlimited, New York and made a special performance at the Art Museum of the Americas, Washington D.C. In 2017, she has a residency with IDEAS xLab thanks to The Canada Council for the Arts. Paul has received generous support from Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec, Conseil des Arts de Longueuil, Société de Développement des Entreprises Culturelles du Québec, and the Québec Government Office in New York.         

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.    

The Institute for Healthy Air Water & Soil

The Institute was founded in March 2014 with the goal of making it easier for people to understand how our natural environment shapes our health. The Institute wants to bring about the kind of change that will help people live healthier lives, such as helping people understand how to clean up our natural environment as well as why we need to do it. The Institute is leading the nation in creating new ways to empower "citizen scientists" to reveal the connections between environmental health and human health, starting with air quality and asthma.


Since 2012 artist innovation group IDEAS xLab (IDEAS), has been designing creative approaches to improve health with a singular philosophy: Health is culturally created.  As pioneers of social innovation IDEAS transforms how people use the creative process. Through a distinct development model which offers a unique artist training program, IDEAS enters into partnerships with universities and health sector professionals to connect arts and humanities-based programming to population health outcomes through science.

The driving purpose behind IDEAS is to shift culture, advocate for policy change and find new ways for communities to H.E.A.L.

·      Health: Understanding it as a cultural and political expression. 

·      Equity: Encouraging civic engagement to create a more open, inclusive society.

·      Art: Conceiving and advancing new narratives through a humanities-based lens.

·      Learning: Designing intergenerational, experiential approaches to ignite hope and action in a new generation of creative, passionate civic and health sector leaders.