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Michael Rakowitz

Air is many things. From your exhaust pipe to your neighbor's window—air is kinetic. At once globally circulated and intimately passed between our bodies—air is shared. A source of inner strength and energy to millions—air is power. But everyone’s access to air is not equal. 

Air makes the invisible visible, through contemporary art that explores air from environmental, social justice, and cultural perspectives.

The exhibition was initially inspired by the Wasatch Front’s poor air quality, for decades a major public health concern. Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem ranked 8th out of 228 metropolitan areas for the worst ozone pollution, according to the 2021 State of the Air report, from the American Lung Association, effectively receiving an ‘F’. The same report finds that more than 40% of Americans—more than 135 million people—live in places with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

While air quality concerns were the catalyst, like air itself, Air has morphed and shapeshifted to encompass much more. It adds to the legacy of Air Art, a 1968 exhibition curated by Willoughby Sharp that examined the aesthetic possibilities of air amidst an art world challenging the prominence of objects.

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