Performer uses wearable art to demonstrate poor air quality in d - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Performer uses wearable art to demonstrate poor air quality in downtown Louisville

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Dominique Paul walks downtown Louisville Dominique Paul walks downtown Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An unusual demonstration brought art and science to the streets of Louisville on Monday, when local middle school students received a colorful demonstration of the downtown air quality.

You could call Dominique Paul the Pied Piper of pollution. The Canadian was walking Jefferson Street with kids and a few adults following close behind, what Paul calls an Air Walk.

She carries a portable monitor that measures small particles in the air, and the quality of the air causes her dress to change color.

“Right now (it's) green, which is good," she said. "I was here last Monday, and it went from yellow to red at around 2 p.m.,” Paul said.

IDEAS xLab helped sponsor the walk so students could see a problem that is normally invisible.

“We have some of the worst air quality in the nation here in Louisville," said Theo Edmonds of IDEAS xLab. "But sometimes, when you can't see a problem, it's hard to get concerned about the problem. So we're using art as a way to lift up the kids into this discussion."

“It's easy to ignore," said Deena Adams of the American Lung Association. "You can't really see bad air most of the time, but we're certainly breathing it."

Paul was accompanied by students from Meyzeek Middle School, where she had visited earlier this year.

“I think it's really cool,” said Meyzeek student Spandana Pavuluri. “We got to actually understand what was happening in Louisville. We needed to be aware of the problems that we have.”

But Paul is careful to point out she is a performance artist, not a scientist.

“I'm here to bring awareness," she said. "I think that's what we can do as first step."

Paul has held similar air walks around the world. Recently in New York City she programmed her dress to reflect disparities in income.

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