March 5, 2001
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By Michael Terrazas firstname.lastname@example.org
Molecular biology has never been so easy on the eyes. Emorys faculty and students have turned Woodruff Librarys Schatten Gallery into a testament to the aesthetics of discoveryand to the science of beautyfor the next three months, as Science and Art: Shared Frontiers fills the space through May 31.
Shared Frontiers encompasses the work of more than 30 individuals
who accepted the broad charge of blending science and art. More than 100
pieces in an impressive array of media comprise the exhibit; there are
images of microscopy, sculptures of wood and of steel, multimedia pieces
displayed on iMac computers, paintings, photographs and much more.
The exhibit was born last spring in the mind of Juliette Apkarian, associate
professor and chair of Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures (REALC).
Apkarians husband Robert, director of the chemistry departments
Integrated Microscopy and Microanalytical Facility, had been producing
artistic images through the equipment in his lab and had even shown them
at other museums. Her husbands work gave Apkarian an idea.
My hunch was there were a lot of other people on campus who might
be doing the same thing, she said. And she was right. Apkarian contacted
Valerie Watkins, director of the Schatten Gallery, who enthusiastically
endorsed the idea and urged her to pursue it.
She also put Apkarian in touch with Sidney Perkowitz, Candler Professor
of Physics, whose interest and experience in merging the worlds of science
and art is long established. Perkowitz even published a book on the subject
in 1996, Empire of Light: A History of Discovery in Science and Art.
The two professors sent an all-campus e-mail soliciting contributions
and then spent the next few months planning what had become an ambitious
undertaking. The exhibit opened Jan. 26.
We found creativity we didnt even know existed, Perkowitz
Its an opportunity to see another side of our faculty,
Apkarian added. It shows the common ground between [science and
art] and the creative fountain both share. Its also bound in Emorys
Finally, its a perfect event for the Year of Reconciliation, though
Apkarian said this did not enter into her initial conceptions and was
purely a wonderful coincidence.
Shared Frontiers is more than just a collection of art. Watkins
said she has never seen an exhibit spur so much complimentary programming,
starting with a series of Wednesday lectures and presentations on the
subject. For example, this week, on March 7 at noon, Emory freshman Lauren
Gunderson will present a staged reading of her one-act play, Background,
about the scientist who developed the Big Bang Theory. The series continues
through April 18.
There is also talk of turning portions of the show into a traveling exhibit
in campus venues. After Shared Frontiers comes down, some
of its pieces will hang in the new Emerson Hall, and Perkowitz said there
might even be a future class that unites science and art students to work
together on projects.
In all my years here, Ive never seen Emory faculty collaborate
in such a way, Apkarian said. We often come together, but
the response to this has been quite special.
On the creative side of the scale, this is simply a bringing together
of areas in which Emory is already investing resources, said Perkowitz,
citing the construction of both phases of Science 2000 and of the performing
arts center. Its a kernel of whats going on at a macroscopic
Both professors and Watkins credit the physics and REALC departments, the colleges Science Council, the graduate schools Burke-Nicholson Forum and the Information Technology Division for providing support for the project. Anyone wishing to learn more before visiting Shared Frontiers can view the exhibits website at http://info.library.emory.edu/Schatten/sa.htm.