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Environment & Energy

Cleveland Public Art Exhibit Anticipates Lake Erie Ice Breaking Up

photo of Lake Erie public art exhibit in Public Square
ELIZABETH MILLER
/
IDEASTREAM
Screens in Public Square show live feeds of Lake Erie.

On the Great Lakes, boat and ship traffic is slowing down for the winter.  Meanwhile, in Cleveland, residents have a chance to watch Lake Erie change as ice builds up -- and breaks up.

photo of artist Julia Christensen
Credit ELIZABETH MILLER / IDEASTREAM
/
IDEASTREAM
Artist Julia Christensen' public art installation delivers a broader message about climate change and the health of the Great Lakes.

It’s part of an unusual public art exhibit called Waiting for a Break, by Ohio artist Julia Christensen. 

On a large screen downtown, six live video feeds show different spots along Lake Erie. One shows waves lapping over rocks, others show a remote island and a nearby bay.

“Usually we turn away from the lake at this time of year, so I wanted to figure out a way to bring those images into public space,” said Christensen.

Live feeds are available online, and on the screen in Cleveland’s Public Square through the winter. Next year, they’ll be a part of an exhibit at a local gallery, too.

Christensen, who teaches at Oberlin College, says the project is about more than watching ice form and break up.

“I found that we’re all cheering for the ice to form at all – and so it’s a really great way to frame the ice as an indicator of climate change, and the health of the lake,” she said.

The forecast across the Great Lakes says ice will form on 55 percent of the surface this winter. But Christensen placed the feeds strategically – on shallow western Lake Erie, where ice almost always forms.

Great Lakes Today is a collaboration of WBFO Buffalo, ideastream Cleveland, and WXXI Rochester.