Kristina Marusic

This is how you really doodle during a meeting

Artist Emily Marko "live doodles" to bring the power of art to weighty discussions. We caught up with her - and her Sharpies - at a meeting on lead and children's health.

PITTSBURGH—Artist and self-described "visual problem-solver" Emily Marko is not your typical doodler.


She's a synthesizer, bringing meetings to life in an entirely different form. Marko was at Pittsburgh's Get the Lead Out conference Thursday, right by the stage with huge paper upon which presentations emerged as colorful sketches in real time.

Throughout the day, people snapped pictures of Marko and her work.

"I basically filter down to the key points of what a person is trying to say and then use visuals and words to just create a little summary to trigger people's memory later," she said.



Pittsburgh-based Women for a Healthy Environment hosted conference, aimed at helping politicians, community organizers, and public health officials work together to eradicate lead from soil, water and homes in the region. Executive Director Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis said she saw Marko working at another recent conference and asked her to visually document this one, too. "I just thought what she was doing was incredibly powerful," Chapkis said. "Emily is capturing through art all of the information we're hearing here today."

Marko says she naturally thinks in visuals. She enjoys live-doodling events like this because she learns so much by listening, processing what she hears, and rendering the key points through her words and drawings.

"It's a lot of listening skills and internal processing," Marko told EHN.

The keynote speakers at the conference were Bruce Lanphear, a leading researcher examining the efficacy of lead hazard controls on children's blood lead levels and their risk for learning and behavioral problems, and Dr. Pamela Pugh, the chief public health advisor of Flint, Michigan. Additional speakers included scientists, politicians, public health officials, attorneys, and representatives from other communities that have implanted effective programs aimed at lowering lead levels in children.

One of Emily Marko's live-doodles from the Get The Lead Out conferencePhoto credit: Kristina Marusic

One of the focuses: A collaborative brainstorming session on how to to reduce lead exposure in Pittsburgh's children.

"We aren't going to get the issue of lead exposure solved in our region in one day, but this is a good place to start," Chapkis said.

Print Friendly and PDF
SUBSCRIBE TO EHN'S MUST-READ DAILY NEWSLETTER: ABOVE THE FOLD
Credit: WWF Malaysia/William Joseph
Children

Balancing palm oil and protected forests to conserve orangutans

Orangutan populations have decreased in fragmented forest areas near palm oil plantations, but they have remained fairly stable in protected forests, giving conservationists some hope for the species' future amid continued decline, according to a new study.

Keep reading... Show less
Corals in American Samoa region that survived a 2015 bleaching event. (Credit: Stephen Palumbi)
Originals

“A friend is gone:” Handpicking hardy corals to save them from warming waters

When Steve Palumbi and a group of scientists arrived in American Samoa in 2017, they saw a grim scene. Acropora hyacinthus, a charismatic coral shaped like large plates, was dying out.

Keep reading... Show less
Wil C. Fry/flickr
Toxics

Widely used PVC plastic chemical spurs obesity, prediabetes: Study

Mice exposed in the womb to a chemical used in PVC plastic, door and window frames, blinds, water pipes, and medical devices were more likely to suffer from prediabetes and obesity, according to a study released this week.

Keep reading... Show less
From our Newsroom

Above The Fold

Daily & Weekly newsletters all free.