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Jan. 27, 2021

Media Advisory: New art installation on Tumamoc Hill invites people to pen proverbs

  • What: Kickoff event for the "Future Climate Proverbs" interactive art installation at the University of Arizona's Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, presented in partnership with the UArizona Poetry Center
  • When: Saturday, Jan. 29, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Where: Boathouse at the base of Tumamoc Hill, 1675 W. Anklam Road

TUCSON, Ariz. – Weather proverbs have been used by people around the world to predict when rains will come or what to expect from upcoming seasons. But as the climate changes, those proverbs become less reliable. The public is invited to imagine new proverbs as part of a new art installation hosted by the University of Arizona's Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill in collaboration with the UArizona Poetry Center.

Members of the media and public are invited to a participate in the "Future Climate Proverbs" kickoff event on Saturday, Jan. 29, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the base of Tumamoc Hill.

The goal of the art installation is for Tumamoc Hill walkers to create new weather proverbs to represent and remember present-day climate conditions, or to express their views of the future.

"Climate change has undermined the predictive power of old proverbs and pushes us to think anew," said Desert Laboratory Director Ben Wilder. "This collaboration with the Poetry Center and created by arts philosopher Jonathon Keats encourages us to observe the shifts in the world around us."

Chalk will be provided for people to respond to prompts inscribed in English, Spanish and O'odham on four slates at different points along the hill. The prompts were composed by Keats, a research associate in the Arizona Institutes for Resilience, as well as local poet and artist Raquel Gutiérrez and poet Ofelia Zepeda, a Regents Professor in the Department of Linguistics.

"Collective observation can allow us to better understand the present and reimagine possible futures," Keats said. "Instead of merely being predictive, proverbs can become proactive."

Organizers hope the installation can become a broadly replicated and locally tailored project. The first iteration draws inspiration from the centuries of human presence and observation on Tumamoc Hill.

At 9 a.m., CREAM Design and Print – a Tucson-based company – will be doing live silkscreen printing of "Future Climate Proverbs" shirts in the three languages, with 200 shirts available for free on a first-come, first-served basis. For a fee, participants also will be able to get silkscreen-printed shirts featuring weather proverbs written by Keats, Gutiérrez and Zepeda. Participants may also bring their own light-colored blank materials to be printed. Natural fabrics work best. 

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Keats will host weather proverb drop-in workshops in the boathouse to help people create their own proverbs. 

Following Saturday's event, the proverb slates will continue to be posted on Tumamoc Hill for at least a year. 

Participants are invited to share photos on social media using #FutureClimateProverbs.

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Media contacts:
Ben Wilder
Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill
Office: 520-621-6949 | Cell: 520-971-2486

Mikayla Mace Kelley
University Communications

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 50 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2020 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $761 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 66 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.

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