Kowalewski's exhibit focused on different energy sources and Calgary's annual consumption.
courtesy Ola Kowalewski

Electrifying educational exhibits

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Local students are stepping up to raise awareness of energy consumption in Calgary. Ola Kowalewski and Jordan Dozzi-Perry have created an art exhibit which highlights the issue of electricity consumption within the city in a visual form.

For the past four months, University of Calgary environmental design student Kowalewski, along with her friend Alberta College of Art and Design photography student Dozzi-Perry worked with industrial designer Jordan Palmer to make their vision for combining science and art a reality.

Their project, Dimensions of Electricity, was an exhibit of scale models of different energy sources used to generate electricity. The 3d models then spatially compared how much of each energy source would be needed to provide Calgary with electricity for an entire year.

The students had different reasons behind wanting this project to come to life. Kowalewski's inspiration for the project stemmed from her observations.

"I realized that this is something that is actually pretty important, especially for the younger generation who will be, I guess, dealing with the notion of generating electricity," she said. "I realized that there was a lack of big picture, of the options, of the true implications. I thought this was an issue that could be effectively communicated through visual means."

Dozzi-Perry wants people to be aware of the energy situation in Alberta so they can make more informed decisions for the future.

"Ola is one of my best friends and to have the knowledge that she was undertaking such a huge project was a drive for me to get involved," said Dozzi-Perry.

The exhibit intended to give a comprehensive view of electricity, including information on greenhouse gas emissions, infrastructure and other statistics. Photographs of the relationship between Calgary's energy dependency and the environment were also on display.

"It starts with the notion of, 'We take electricity for granted, we've become dependent on it, and expect it to always be there,' " argued Kowalewski. "You don't know what the environmental costs are. The holistic perspective is stepping back, reflecting and saying, 'Okay, what does it actually mean? My consumption, what are the implications?' Everything is connected."

Kowalewski urged Canadians to try to save energy. She argued that being more conscious and turning off lights does not have to compromise the Western standard of living.

"We're extremely dependent on coal," she said. "That doesn't mean we shouldn't try developing other means, but I truly believe that we should act as a leader for innovative ways to implement cleaner coal technologies."

As for the future of electrical production, Kowalewski and Dozzi-Perry support local initiatives.

"We need to work towards getting people, more people, to consider putting solar panels on their homes and also realizing that different sources [of energy] and mixes aren't a bad thing," said Dozzi-Perry.

The exhibit was on display last week at IDEAL Artspace on the corner of 17th Ave. and 1st St. SW.