There are Many Idioms About Breathing and Yet - CODAworx

There are Many Idioms About Breathing and Yet

Client: The State of California, California Air Resources Board, and Hensel Phelps Construction

Location: Riverside, CA, United States

Completion date: 2022

Artwork budget: $149,998

Project Team


Kameelah Janan Rasheed

Art Consultant

Dyson & Womack


ZGF Architects


Hensel Phelps


In Kameelah Janan Rasheed’s “There are Many Idioms About Breathing and Yet” we are either “holding our breath” in anticipation of change or “catching our breath” as new information is revealed about the multigenerational impacts of air pollution. The artwork is part of the public art collection at the state-of-the-art California Air Resources Board (CARB) campus, one of the world’s largest and most advanced emissions testing and research facilities.

The collection brings art into dialogue with racial and environmental justice. Rasheed’s work, located in the main lobby, sparks this dialogue through the language of waiting, comfort, and our desired proximity to change. What does it mean to always hold one’s breath? When will we experience a political shift as a breath of fresh air?

A poetic text recontextualizes idioms about breathing, addressing the mechanics of breath and the notion of progress in the fight for environmental justice. Below the text, a silent film plays, separately titled “otherwise, 2021.” The film centers the politics and poetics of breathing as a meditation on pacing and temporality. The public art program at CARB, designed and implemented by Dyson & Womack, is the world’s largest permanent collection of public art addressing air quality and climate change.


The CARB campus is known globally for its technical excellence and environmental leadership. The public art collection at CARB is the public face of that mission and both reflects and enhances the narratives of achievement, diversity, resistance, and ingenuity found in the histories and futures of CARB.

The CARB public art program was designed by Dyson & Womack as a model for public commissioning through a process that exhibited clarity in design and concept and stimulated well-being through environmental stewardship and community engagement. The program is a world-class collection of aesthetically and technically excellent artworks that model active stewardship of global environmental issues through sustainable practices and spark conversation about air quality and the role of California as a leader in public well-being and environmental sustainability.

Dyson & Womack develop public art programs with equity, sustainability, and accessibility in mind. These core values are based on our belief that art should be innovative and progressive when it comes to addressing the fundamental concerns of our time. Public Art has the unique ability to ask questions and pose answers while engaging and welcoming the audiences of today.


Dyson & Womack were selected by the State of California to lead the CARB public art program from the development of the Art Plan to its final implementation. How the collection of commissioned artists and artworks came into being was an exercise in rethinking what a responsible future looks like in a world increasingly impacted by climate change.

The commissioning process included a requirement for a Statement of Sustainability and corresponding evaluation criteria. Outlined in the public art action plan, we asked artists to consider sustainability within the lifespan of the artwork, its maintenance, and long-term care. In addition, the commissioned artworks incorporate efficiency into their material use and sourced materials and fabrication locally. Dyson & Womack created a book, Air Resource, to memorialize this landmark collection of public artworks.

Dyson & Womack developed, curated, and project managed the program and each individual artwork acting as the liaison between the artists, the design-build team (ZGF and Hensel Phelps), and the project owner (the State of California). The project was a multi-year collaboration under the direct supervision of Dyson & Womack.

Additional Information

The California Air Resouces Board public art collection includes five permanent artworks by commissioned artists, Noé Montes, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Tomás Saraceno, Refik Anadol, and Allora & Calzadilla. The commissioned artworks explore the conceptual framework of air quality and climate change through the lenses of environmental justice and community, our collective and future climate potential, and the racial and social-economic impacts of air pollution. The collection is an explosion of creativity and innovation that takes sustainability, innovation, and human care and responsibility as its core message.