Mail Icon Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Share
NEWS & EVENTS Subscribe to rss news feed  

Want to know more about the air you are breathing in your own neighborhood or backyard? Interested in taking part in a region-wide, collective art project? Here is your opportunity!


We are thrilled to announce that Detroit-based visual artist Susan Goethel Campbell will kick off a year-long public art project THIS weekend at the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival called Portraits of Air: Pittsburgh. Her collaborative venture is at the intersection of art, science and environmental sustainability, inviting people to think about air–where it moves and what is in it–in new and interesting ways.


It works like this: Campbell will be at our Breathe Project table at the arts festival on June 8 and 9, where she will distribute 100 framed, spun-glass air filters to interested participants.


People who take an 8X10 filter will be asked to place them in locations where they think the air is dirty at their home, workplace or in their community. In past projects, people have selected unusual and playful sites for their filters–everywhere from under the bed to near a construction site to next to the smoker at a barbecue. The frames have magnets on the back so they can be attached to a metal surface.


Participants will then e-mail Campbell a photo of the filter in its chosen location(s). She will post the photos and other project updates on her website,, over the course of the year.


During that time, the filters will collect particulate matter in the air, and next March, participants will mail their dirty filters back to Campbell, who will scan them for documentation. The results of the project will be exhibited next year at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s 709 Gallery, and all participants will receive a full-color poster featuring the filters and sites where they were placed throughout the Pittsburgh region.


“The goal of this project is not to tell people about the hazards of air pollution, but to let people think about the issues on their own,” Campbell says. “Concern for the environment has always been prevalent in my work. More recently, I decided to take the information I was presenting and abstract it more so the message wasn’t so heavy-handed.”


Campbell’s interest in air quality issues was heightened when she moved to Detroit in the 1980s and was taken aback by the air pollution from the car manufacturers and other industries. “I would look on the horizon, and it would have a yellowish haze,” she recalls. “…I could use the smell of the air as an indicator as to which way the wind was blowing.”


In 2009, she began researching air quality in Detroit, shadowing a State of Michigan air-monitoring technician for two months going to data collection sites in Southwest Detroit. She was stunned by the amount of particulates measured at a collection site near a steel smelter over a 24-hour period.


That year, Campbell launched a project similar to the one she is undertaking in Pittsburgh called Dirty Pictures: Portraits of Air. Her intention was to create an ongoing, unscientific investigation on the movement and quality of air around the world. For the project, she disbursed filters to 24 people in seven countries, including 14 locations within the United States. The resulting exhibition was shown in Maribor, Slovenia, and the Flux Factory in Queens, New York. Text documenting the locations of the filters also led to the creation of a poem. A subsequent project focused on air quality in the five boroughs in New York City.


Air quality in the Pittsburgh area has certainly improved in recent decades, but pollution levels in our region are still high enough to harm our health. We are excited about this new conceptual way to think about this problem and look forward to seeing all of the creative places that people find to place their air filters as their photos come in throughout the year.


Be sure to stop by our table at the Three Rivers Arts Festival on Saturday, June 8 to talk to Campbell and pick up your filter and instructions–along with great Breathe Project swag. She will also be attending the festival on Sunday to give away filters while supplies last.


And stay tuned to the Breathe Project blog and Campbell’s site for regular updates on the Portraits of Air: Pittsburgh project or to find out how to get involved!

Comments (1)

  1. Terri says:

    I would like to participate. I live on nokomis fl on the gulf. We have water front property and I would
    Like to see what comes over the gulf

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

October 20, 2017
GASP-toberfest     Join GASP for fun, fall festivities at GASP-toberfest as we celebrate a year’s worth of victories and successes.   Fri, October 20, 2017 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM EDT   Penn Brewery Restaurant 800 Vinial Street Pittsburgh, PA … Learn More
October 14, 2017
2017 Pittsburgh Solar Tour   Participate in the Seventh Annual Pittsburgh Solar Tour   PennFuture’s 7th annual Pittsburgh Solar Tour encourages solar and clean energy solutions by connecting citizens to residential, commercial, and public solar installations and installers. Each year, this free event attracts … Learn More
October 25, 2017
Pittsburgh’s Air Quality, Indoor Environments, and You   A CRASH COURSE AND CITIZEN SCIENCE SHOWCASE: PITTSBURGH’S AIR QUALITY, INDOOR ENVIRONMENTS, AND YOU October 25, 2017 – 3-6p The Heinz Endowments’ 31st Floor Conference Center   Despite great improvements in air quality since the days of streetlights being … Learn More
September 27, 2017
Petrochemical America: From Cancer Alley to Toxic Valley Will Pittsburgh forget the lessons learned from its toxic past in writing the next chapter for its future?   Several organizations concerned about the region’s air quality, environment and future have come together to present a multimedia exhibition that draws … Learn More
August 10, 2017
GASP Air Fair   “GASP for Clean Air! Sources, Symptoms, and Solutions” is an art exhibit put on by GASP and hosted at Assemble throughout August 2017. This family-friendly exhibit focuses on air quality issues impacting Southwestern PA and what they mean for … Learn More
October 17, 2017
Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Training Comes to Pittsburgh Join Climate Reality for their Leadership Corps training and work with former US Vice President Al Gore and renowned climate scientists and communicators to learn about what’s happening to our planet and how you can use social media, powerful storytelling, … Learn More
May 22, 2017
Green City Remix Explores Social Change through Air Quality and Art   Celebrate the first youth designed exhibit at the Senator John Heinz History Center. The Opening Celebration will showcase an art installation crafted by cohorts of high school learners from seven area schools. The students spent several months exploring the … Learn More
May 3, 2017
Physical Activity, Air Pollution and Asthma in the Urban Environment   Making the Connection Series: Physical Activity, Air Pollution and Asthma in the Urban Environment.   Dr. Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir will discuss her research and afterwards there will be a panel of health and community experts to respond to her presentation. … Learn More
See all events
latest on facebook

  • Fatal error: Uncaught OAuthException: Error validating application. Application has been deleted. thrown in /nfs/c09/h05/mnt/133684/domains/ on line 1254