Mosaic installation promotes personal climate change action

Julie Sperling, the City of Kitchener's artist-in-residence, uses mosaics on display at city hall to engage the community on tackling a small piece of climate change.

Mosaics highlight small actions individuals can take to help tackle climate change

"Pollan's Rule" highlights the role of food in tackling climate change, and contains pieces of bone. (

A Kitchener mosaic artist is using her work to engage the community about climate change action.

For Julie Sperling, her Kitchener City Hall artist residency was the perfect opportunity to further those conversations on a grassroots level.

"People really engage with the textures [of a mosaic]," she told The Morning Edition's Craig Norris. "And so when you can make people slow down like that, [then] you get that opening for dialogue."

"Climate in Pieces: From Art to Action" highlights simple actions that people can take help mitigate climate change.

Whether it is air-drying laundry or planting a rain garden, Sperling says people often dismiss these everyday steps as a drop in a bucket.

But, she says, just like each tessera piece on a mosaic they are contributing to a much larger, more significant picture.

Her exhibit focuses on four things: transportation, energy, food and storm water, each with practical examples.

Sperling used mostly foraged materials which she cut by hand, making sure that each piece contained a special material relevant to one of the four themes.

Julie Sperling is a mosaic artist and Kitchener's 2017 artist-in-residence. She has a new exhibit in Kitchener City Hall titled Climate in Pieces: From Art to Action. It looks at ways people can reduce their individual carbon footprint. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

A community effort

"Climate in Pieces" is also collaborative piece with members of the community.

Sperling has asked residents to think of one action they can take to reduce their carbon footprint, and make a mosaic about it.

She says community members have already come up with some interesting ways of taking climate action.

"There's one man in the community and he is committed to towing his kayak with his bike," she said.

She will be taking all those pieces and making them into a bigger mosaic at the end of her residency.

Sperling's tips for climate action include:

  • Transportation: walking or taking public transit. 
  • Energy: switching to renewable energy, turning off lights that aren't in use. 
  • Food: eating local and avoiding food wastage. 
  • Storm water: installing a rain barrel.

She will be at Kitchener City hall Thursday evening for the opening reception of the exhibit.

"The Paths Most Travelled" looks at active transportation (walking) as a way of reducing carbon footprint. (