Living Art America 2016 – North American Bodypainting Championships


Living Art America 2016 - Bodypaint by Breanna CookeOn September 24th, I was one of many U.S. and international body painters who converged on Greensboro, NC for Living Art America’s 2016 North American Bodypainting Championships. This was my first time in the professional category and there were some phenomenal competitors. We had 6.5 hours to complete our pieces and many artists worked with an assistant (I’ll be looking for an assistant next time!). The theme for the event was “Face of Change” and my piece is about changing the face of climate change.

I care deeply about the environment and my initial research and design was focused on so many of the negative images of climate change. I was being dragged down into despair each time I worked on the piece. However, a week before Living Art America, I attended the National Drive Electric Week event in Dallas and my spirits were lifted. I met so many inspiring people who are passionate and vocal about renewable energy and promoting change. After attending that event, I revamped my design with only a few days left before heading to Living Art America. I turned the focus from the negative and focused on the positive scientific discoveries and renewable options that already exist. A friend shared a research study from the University of Illinois at Chicago about artificial leaves that can turn CO2 into fuel and I made that story the main focus of the design (Read the full article here). Keep in mind, my design is just my artistic interpretation of their research, it’s not what the artificial leaves look like.

Presentation to Judges

Below is the description that I presented to the judges of Living Art America:

Living Art America 2016 - Breanna Cooke

“Carbon dioxide, the invisible yet leading factor in global warming, has caused some of the most sensitive organisms on our planet to become the face of climate change. Events such as widespread coral bleaching from warming oceans (seen on her shoulders), have become the saddening images we associate with climate change. On her forearms and lower legs, we have bioluminescent plankton, that light up when they’re disturbed. Her hands and feet are covered in them to represent our human impact and disturbance of nature.

“However, in order to slow the prevalence of these images and events, scientific discovery will be, and must be, the new face of climate change. In July this year, engineers created a new kind of artificial leaf (shown on her stomach) that efficiently converts atmospheric CO2 into a burnable fuel, and it only uses sunlight for energy (shown on her chest).  It is essentially doing photosynthesis, like plants. So instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we must reverse the process, remove excess CO2 and find ways to fuel greener, more sustainable cities (seen on her thighs).

Living Art America 2016 - Bodypaint by Breanna Cooke“But until we can implement new discoveries like this on a wide scale, we must actively cut our carbon emissions. This means embracing the renewable energy sources that already exist, such as energy from wind and solar (seen on her back and sides).

Our world has already changed with rising temperatures and sea levels (shown in the waves encroaching on our cities), but with science, we can go forward.”

Stage Presentation

After judging, the models have an opportunity to present the work on stage. I chose the song “Save Our Planet Earth” by Jimmy Cliff since it has a powerful yet upbeat message about protecting our planet.

Awards Gala

At the Living Art America Awards Gala, I received a Special Judges’ Award from judge Robin Slonina (Skin Wars’ Judge, Owner of Skin City Bodypaint), in recognition of the message and design I had chosen. I was absolutely thrilled by the award and left feeling inspired to keep sharing the message to #saveourplanet.


For more photos, connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter.

UPDATED: 10/19/2016 – Correction to “University of Illinois at Chicago,” instead of “University of Chicago”.


  1. Bill Burton says:

    UIC, the University of Illinois at Chicago, is a public research university on Chicago’s Near West Side. It is the largest university in the Chicago area; home to the nation’s largest medical school; and has one of the most diverse student bodies in the country.

    But it is not the University of Chicago, a private university on the city’s south side.

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