The objective of this project is to raise awareness about air pollution and other environmental issues in Salt Lake City and its impact for the student body at the University of Utah as well as the citizens of the area. We seek to do so by asking people from across the University of Utah campus, Salt Lake City, and the surrounding areas to participate in raising awareness regarding air pollution through a series of events led by three environmentally focused artists from Beijing, China—Li Gang, Huang Xu, and Dai Dandan. These artists will be joined by Taiwanese artist, Mei Mei Chang, who lives and works in Washington, DC, and a renowned photographer, Matthew Niederhauser.

The artists will be available Monday through Friday in their “living-gallery” space where people will be able to talk with them, contribute to existing projects, and create their own works of art. On February 10th, the artists will all participate in a roundtable discussion at the UMFA, led by Art History professor, Dr. Winston Kayan. The artist’s visit will culminate in a collaborative exhibition that will feature the work created during their three-week residency.

We need your help!

We need students, residents, activists, doctors, artists, and engineers alike to work with the artists to create artworks, collect images, and explore new creative practices. In line with the sponsorship by Utah’s Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF), we want the products developed from this collaboration to be used to enhance environmental scholarship, research, and advocacy on campus and citywide.


As the population of Salt Lake City continues to rise, air pollution has become an increasingly salient issue for residents of the valley. Each winter and summer, the surrounding mountains disappear for days behind a pool of smog that overtakes the basin. Factory emissions are one major contributor to the problem. Vehicle emissions are another, which account for over half of the pollution in the city.

The University of Utah has taken measures to encourage the use of public transportation by entering into a contract with the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) that helps make public transportation affordable for U of U students, staff, and faculty. Each student is automatically registered for a UTA pass as part of his or her student fees. Additional incentives including the iPad giveaway are used to entice students to start using public transit systems. Bike racks, bike lanes, and bike repair stations make commuting to campus on two wheels easier for many students. Yet, red air quality alerts still plague the city and the campus each year. 


Beijing, which is similar to Salt Lake City in regard to climate and geography, is also facing dire air pollution issues. The rise of car culture combined with factory emissions has created a layer of smog that often envelops the city and endangers the health of its citizens. Reports regarding the critical nature of this issue have reached Western media outlets, and Beijing’s outrageous air quality index has been broadcast across the globe.

Citizens of Beijing have sought to make this issue visible to the world by circulating images, distributing information over social networks, and making art. In response, the Chinese government has offered record-breaking tax incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid vehicles, increased public transit networks, moved factories outside the city, and invested heavily in green energy technology. Making this pollution visible—imaging it—has aided in raising awareness about this issue, and the global publicity of the air quality issue in the media helped to apply pressure to the Chinese government to act. The newly elected premier of China has announced that improving air quality is one of the top two issues he would like to address as the new leader. 


AQI, Air Quality Index, is often used to measure air quality.It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.

EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health.

Source: AirNow

Color coded Chart Show Levels of Health Risk


Real-Time Beijing AQI by aqicn.org

Salt Lake City Air Quality Forecast

The air pollution in Salt Lake City that comes from cars, industry, and wood burning is sometimes trapped by a confluence of topographic and meteorological factors.

This valley is surrounded on all sides by mountains. The right meteorological condition – cold temperatures, no breezes – cause the cold air to become trapped. Because the air isn’t moving, the pollution also has no where to go and it begins to build up. It is held in place beneath a layer of warm air. The condition is called an inversion because it is the reverse of a normal air pattern.

Research and study also finds massive oil and gas drilling also caused air pollution in the area. The oil-field operations created about 99 percent of the volatile organic chemical emissions and about 70 percent of the nitrogen oxides emitted in the Uintah Basin in eastern Utah.


Although some of the heavy smog in Beijing can be attributed to wintry weather conditions, the human contribution is one of the biggest factors that cause the record levels of air pollution in Beijing. There has been rapid industrialization in China and a heavy reliance on coal power, which have both contributed to the problem.

However, of the pollutants that come locally from Beijing, experts believe that vehicle emissions are the greatest source of Beijing’s air pollution.

source: JP Morgan and Sohu News


There are many different types of air pollutants. How air pollution affects human body is determined by the length of time you are exposed , your health status and genetic makeup, and the concentration of pollutants.

In general, air pollution can cause the following major health risks:


Art has been long been an important force in numerous environmental movements. The photographs of Carleton Watkins arguably saved Yosemite and Ansel Adams’ photographs helped the Sierra Club to preserve some of our most sacred spaces in the American West. However, today environmental issues are no longer solely about preserving space, but also making changes. We can look to China to see how art is being used to incite action and make important improvements to policies and laws by not documenting the pristine.

This project seeks to capture the effects our choices have on the sublime landscapes of Utah’s valley. With the advent of social media, we also have the ability to spread these images widely and quickly, thereby raising layered levels of awareness that extend beyond our community.



The Living Gallery is a three-week event that transforms a space typically reserved for the display of art into a working studio intended to bridge the gap between art and life. The artists will begin working on February 3, 2014 to transform the blank walls of Gittins Gallery on the University of Utah campus into a conversation about one of the most important issues for residents of Salt Lake City, Utah—air pollution . We have invited Hu Qinwu, Li Gang, Hu Shengping, and Mei Mei Chang to help us take air quality issues and turn them into something we can see and talk about differently. This group of artists is well positioned to help us here in Salt Lake City as Beijing also deals with severe air quality issues. Beijing activists have been successful in getting government officials to act to preserve this most valuable resource. We need action too!

We invite you to join the artists. Art is a conversation, and we want you to be part of it! Come to the Gittins Gallery  to share ideas and resources, have a conversation, learn about air quality issues, or help the artists with their work. Poor air quality is a public health concern that affects us all, and we need to do something to raise not only awareness, but action.

As one SLC protestor’s sign reads:
“If you breathe, this is your problem too.”

Artists will be in the Gittins Gallery Monday through Friday from 10am-4pm beginning Monday, February 3, 2014 through February 20, 2013.

February 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3
· Living Gallery
  10am – 4pm
· Living Gallery
  10am – 4pm
· Living Gallery
  10am – 4pm
· Living Gallery
  10am – 4pm
· Living Gallery
 10am – 4pm
9 10
· Living Gallery
  10am – 4pm
· Roundtable Discussion@UMFA
· Living Gallery
  10am – 4pm
· Living Gallery
  10am – 4pm

· Living Gallery
  10am – 4pm



· Living Gallery
  10am – 4pm
· Living Gallery
  10am – 4pm
· Living Gallery
  10am – 4pm

· Living Gallery
  10am – 4pm
· Closing Reception@Gittins Gallery, 6pm-8pm
21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28  

Press Coverage

The Salt Lake Tribune


City Weekly




Utah Public Radio


Trib Talk


Peaceful Uprising




Sustainable Utah


U News Center


City Weekly


Sustainable Utah


BYU Radio


Daily Utah Chronical


Top News Today



Faced with increasing resource constraints, severe environmental pollution and a deteriorating ecosystem, we must raise our ecological awareness of the need to respect, accommodate and protect nature.

Pres. Hu, 18th CPC Congress Nov 2012

China’s greatest environmental achievement over the past decade has been the growth of environmental activism among the Chinese people.  They have pushed the boundaries of environmental protection well beyond anything imaginable a decade ago.

Elizabeth Economy, Council on Foreign Relations

I’m anticipating reforms to improve environmental protection. China’s environmental pollution is becoming more and more serious. The heavy air pollution across a host of Chinese cities is getting on people’s nerves. I hope that the government can divert more attention to the environment by introducing measures to prevent and treat the environmental problems.

Xiao Xiami, Fuzhou, Fujian province, quoted in China Daily 11/18/2013

We need both: harmony between humans and nature, and democracy. But if democracy only means the right to recklessly consume natural resources, like in the US, it has no value for us. The goal of harmony between humans and nature should be above the goal of democracy.

Liao Xiaoyi, Beijing Global Village

It’s a very simplistic way of thinking of China as just one singular thing. It is a place where you have 1.3 billion people and there are huge differences from region to region, and economic structures are different, education levels are different. So it’s actually a country with huge diversity.

Ailun Yang, Greenpeace China

More and more Chinese people are coming to understand that development founded on ever greater resource consumption is not sustainable.

Ma Jun, Director of Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs


Main Contact:

Kevin DeLuca
Betsy Brunner
Department of Communication
Languages and Communication Bldg.
255 S. Central Campus Drive
RM 2400
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0491

“Living Gallery” Location:

375 S 1530 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

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