February 19, 2018 10:15AM
The piece will be on display in the Leonard H. Axe Library beginning on Monday, Feb. 19. Jorge León, Pittsburg State's Learning Outreach Librarian, aims to display the piece along with information about other sustainability efforts on campus and educational resources, that can be checked out from the library.
Last fall, Pittsburg State faculty, staff, and students attended the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education annual conference in San Antonio, Texas, where representatives of higher education institutions from across the nation were invited to submit an application to receive the art. They were asked to document why their university would be a valuable recipient of the artwork.
“Given the large number of universities present at AASHE, I am surprised PSU was selected,” said Tonya Pentola, supervisor of Campus Recycling Operations. “Although, once you think about it, we have been out front on many issues related to public health and resource management.”
Pentola noted that in 2015, Pittsburg State became the first Tobacco-free KBOR institution in the State of Kansas and installed solar panels on the new Robert W. Plaster Center. Today, the 32 solar modules produce an estimated 16,474 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year and benefit 2,000 students through education, research and demonstration.
Environmental Graphiti, founded by artist Alisa Singer, is based on the idea that art makes science more accessible, and science makes art more meaningful, and together they create a powerful narrative about critical issues such as climate change. The Environmental Graphiti collection is organized into four galleries: why our climate is changing, how is climate change affecting our world, who is at risk, and what can we do to address climate change. The subject matter involves both public health and environmental impacts.
“When I saw the vector-borne piece I was just drawn to it,” said Alicia Mason, associate professor and program coordinator for Pittsburg State's Sustainability, Society and Resource Management degree program. “We recently enhanced our capabilities in the Communication Research Lab to gather real time data and involve undergraduate and graduate research students in our research initiatives focusing on the public health impacts of emerging and reoccurring infectious disease, such as Zika.”
Vector-borne diseases, those spread by animals and insects such as fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are influenced by the climate, Mason said. Certain diseases are particularly sensitive to climatic conditions such as Dengue Fever, which has shown a 30-fold increase over the past 30 years, as well as, recent emerging diseases such as Zika.
“To me this piece symbolizes the delicate balance between human health and the quality of our natural environment,” said Mason. “To others it will mean something else, which is the beauty of the art.”
Pentola has a different perspective.
“I think it’s important to remember, as I and close family members suffer from Lyme disease, students on our campus suffer from various tick and mosquito related illnesses,” said Pentola. “To me this piece isn’t about whether you believe in climate change, it's whether you care about the health and wellness of the environment and others in your community.”
The Environmental Graphiti art collection consists of approximately 60 digital paintings and two short videos. The organization works with schools and universities, non-profits and governmental agencies to make the art affordable for purchase or exhibition. Art is available for exhibition, rental or sale to galleries, museums and the general public, with proceeds used to help fund efforts to enhance public awareness of the science of climate change.
“Our hopes are that the art will one day hang in a PSU Center for Sustainability,” said Brian Peery, co-chair of Pittsburg State's Sustainability Committee. “Eventually we would like to secure additional pieces of the collection that reflect the localized challenges we are facing in this area such as drought, water, and waste management.”
The PSU Foundation is accepting public and private donations to the PSU Center for Sustainability Development Fund.
Learn more about Pittsburg State's SSRM degree program at http://www.pittstate.edu/ssrm/