Professor, arts organization team up for climate change-themed art competition

Art and nature intersect in AMP!’s newest project, “The Elapsing City,” a public art contest themed around climate change. Maria-Serena Poli, a professor of geography and geology, gave a free presentation in King Hall on Wednesday to educate artists on the topic and provide information on how to submit designs.

Poli, a paleoclimatologist, studies the climates of the past. She has been speaking about global warming for eight years. Her presentation, “Global Warming: Causes, Consequence and Possible Solutions,” was designed to inform potential competitors about the subject of the art project.

To open the presentation, Poli showed a photo of the famous Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware River.

“As you can see, the river is covered with ice, something that has not happened in 40 years,” Poli said.

She went into detail about the process known as the greenhouse effect, thought to be one of the major causes of climate change.

Poli stressed that the greenhouse effect is a natural and beneficial phenomenon, as the average global temperature of the Earth would be zero degrees Fahrenheit without it. But gases like carbon dioxide and methane aggravate the greenhouse effect and cause what is known as global warming.

“I’d compare [the greenhouse effect] to chocolate chip ice cream,” Poli said. “It’s good, but too much can be bad.”

Graduate arts administration student Mei Mei collaborated with AMP! to give life to “The Elapsing City.” The science-tinged art project is part of her graduate thesis project, which aims to encourage EMU artists to combine art and science.

“I’m from China – the air pollution is very serious there,” Mei said. “Since I’m here, I find the climate change is global.”

Now in her second year in Michigan, she drew some inspiration from the harsh weather patterns experienced in the Mitten State.

“It seems like the winter never ends,” Mei said.
AMP!, or Amplifying the Arts, is the group behind Eastern Michigan University’s television program “Clash of the Creators” and functions as the student organization for those involved in the university’s arts management programs. The competition is open to any EMU student interested in participating.

The organization hopes to promote awareness of climate change and its effects through the contest. Students may enter proposals based on phenomena related to climate change, and the winner of the competition will be awarded $750 to fund his or her artwork.
Additionally, the winner’s art will be displayed on EMU’s campus and exhibited in the Mark Jefferson Science Building in September 2014. The due date for entry into the contest is April 22, which is also Earth Day.

For more information on AMP!, visit or the group’s Facebook page, For more information about the contest, contact Mei at

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