5 Questions for Elizabeth Monoian MFA ’00

Carnegie Mellon University
School of Art
Friday, February 5, 2021
Interview between Andy Ptaschinski and LAGI Co-Director Elizabeth Monoian

“5 Questions” is an ongoing series by the School of Art that asks alumni who are transforming art, culture, and technology about their current work and time at Carnegie Mellon.

Why is it important to incorporate artists and creatives in designing renewable energy infrastructure, an area that is typically thought of as belonging to the realm of engineering and technology?

Last year the United States broke records by installing 19 gigawatts of solar power. In order to win the war on anthropogenic climate change, organizations like the International Renewable Energy Agency estimate that we will require tens of thousands of gigawatts of solar capacity installed over the coming decades. Meeting that challenge will radically transform our cities and landscapes and it is critically important that we engage creative minds to imagine how this transformation can occur in the most equitable, aesthetic, cultural, and resilient ways that provide opportunities for everyone.

There are lessons to be learned from past infrastructure implementations—from the interstate highways and the failures of mid-century “urban renewal” to the WPA era projects that left a beautiful legacy of public art and historic architecture. While it is important that we don’t repeat past mistakes, we also have an opportunity this decade to create new landmarks of infrastructure art that future generations can visit and remember this important time when we acted collectively to right the balance of Earth’s natural systems.

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