Art exhibit about risks to region’s air quality opens tomorrow at Pittsburgh's SPACE Gallery | Blogh

Art exhibit about risks to region’s air quality opens tomorrow at Pittsburgh's SPACE Gallery

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A graphic from "Petrochemical America"
  • A graphic from "Petrochemical America"
Petrochemical America: From Cancer Alley to Toxic Valley uses documentary photography, film and more to compare the impacts of the petrochemical industry in Louisiana to a future of anticipated similar developments in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The show at SPACE gallery, created in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab and several environmental groups, opens tomorrow with a reception. It’s the spinoff of a long-running photo documentary project blending art and social justice.

Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” a hub of petrochemical production, is the point of comparison for this region, which is the planned future home of Shell Chemical’s ethane “cracker” plant in Beaver County and other facilities feeding off Marcellus Shale gas extraction here. By several measures, Allegheny County is already among the worst counties in the U.S. for cancer risk. Environmental advocates fear what will happen if new facilities add more toxic pollution to the mix.

The exhibit features the drawings of landscape architect Kate Orff, of SCAPE Studio; images from the photographers of the Marcellus Shale Documentary Project; audio recorded by Public Herald; and documentary films highlighting the voices of people who live near polluting industries. CREATE Lab contributes an interactive visualization of federal air-toxics statistics, to illustrate pollution around the country.

The exhibit is curated by Sophie Riedel, an activist and recent graduate of CMU’s School of Architecture. Other collaborators with CREATE Lab include Clean Air Council, Beaver County Marcellus Shale Awareness Committee, and Penn Future through the Air Quality Collaborative.

The exhibit runs for 11 days at SPACE and then moves to the Beaver Station Cultural & Event Center, Oct. 16-20.

Tomorrow’s opening reception at SPACE features Wilma Subra, a noted environmentalist, chemist and environmental consultant based in Lafayettte, La.

The reception runs 5-8 p.m. It is free, as is admission to the exhibit. However, reservations are required here.

Related events include an Oct. 4 Regional Visioning Session. The Oct. 7 closing reception with Gena Wirth, of SCAPE, includes a bus tour of a petrochemical plant in Potter Township.

SPACE is located at 812 Liberty Ave., Downtown.

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