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Art students educate on the importance of healthy air with mural

For the Utah Statesman

Published: Monday, February 10, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 10, 2014 23:02

art for air

Courtesy Madison Bayles

Children help fill in the paint-by-numbers style mural set up to teach about how clean air is better.

Between USU’s Merrill-Cazier Library and the Quadside Cafe sits an interactive mural created by four art students. Placed in the cafe area on Jan. 23, the super-sized color-by-numbers was joined by a nearby flyer, explaining the image would be unveiled as students helped fill in the colorless shapes.

In just three days, hundreds of USU students and a visiting class of second graders revealed the previously unrecognizable image — a pair of colorful lungs containing several small black and grey specks meant to represent the harmful particles currently polluting the air in Cache Valley.

USU students Madison Pope Bayles, Kate Gourley, Paige Gardner and Andy Bayles created the piece after receiving a $1,400 grant from the Clear the Air Carbon Offset Committee, a subcommittee of the USU Sustainability Council. The Art for Air project aims to inform Cache Valley residents of the dangers regarding air pollution and what residents can do to help combat the issue.

“Last semester I was in art history class, and we talked about conceptual art and artists involved in the environment,” Pope Bayles said. “That’s when I first thought It’d be cool to do art about air quality in Cache Valley.”

Pope Bayles, a senior studying drawing and painting at USU, hopes the message of the collaborative artwork is clear to her fellow students.

“Every little bit helps in filling in this color by numbers,” Bayles said. “If I tried to do the whole thing myself, it would take way, way too long … I have loved watching people walk by, double take, grab a crayon, fill in a number, and keep moving. In the end, every single shape that was colored will have made a difference. I think its like that with air quality. If I tried to solve the problem myself, I wouldn't make much of a difference, but if everybody did one small thing every week, that could make a difference.”

According to the sustainability council, 19 percent of USU’s carbon emissions are due to faculty, staff and students traveling on university business. The council, as well as the students involved in the Art for Air project, encourage students to carpool to work or school, to take the bus once a week instead of driving and to avoid letting cars idle.

“There are many simple things we could each to do to make the air a little better, and a lot of little betters could make a big difference,” Pope Bayles said.

Find out more about upcoming Art For Air projects at

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