'Sculpting Science' exhibit brings biology and art students together

ASU exhibit showcases science and sculpture

ASU art and science students came together on the Downtown Phoenix campus Aug. 29 to create an exhibit that blends the two subjects. 

The exhibit, named "Sculpting Science," aims to support the integration of art and science students into on-campus research labs and ceramics studios in order to inspire a deeper appreciation of the beauty interwoven with science. 

The idea came together in 2015 after Susan Beiner, a professor from the School of Art brought her ceramics students to associate professor Robert Roberson's cell microscopy lab to view the surface of ceramic material at a microscopic level. 

Beiner said that she thought combining the two fields would help her artists get the experience of creating something tangible. 

"They get real life experience ... as an artist you need to create work, exhibit it and sell it to sustain what you do," Beiner said. "This exhibition is on par with a professional atmosphere and audience, it is a rare and important opportunity for the students." 

Beiner said that the beauty of the exhibit lies in its unique fusion of two seemingly opposite worlds; the physical and the world of art.

"The class, as well as the exhibit seeks to challenge artists, scientists and everyone in between to see and appreciate the aesthetic value of science," Beiner said. 

The first exhibit debuted in 2015, featuring 12 artists. After a successful opening, it was brought back in 2017 with 18 artists. The 2019 addition of the biennial art exhibit in the vibrant Step Gallery was the largest yet, housing a whopping 24 artists' work.

The 2019 exhibit was unique because it incorporated STEM students by allowing them to take the ceramics class as a science elective and contribute to the exhibit. 

Beiner said one of her favorite works from this years exhibit was done by an electrical engineering student. 

"Their dialogue was interesting because there was crossover and collaboration, different ways and ideas came through that wouldn’t ordinarily happen with just the art students," Beiner said. 

Ceramics senior Emily Bauer was one of the art students who dived into the world of science. She worked within an astronomy lab to create her interpretation of a flame nebula. In addition, she also constructed a microscopic representation of a succulent plant and a system of brain neurons. 

“This was stepping way outside my comfort zone," Bauer said. "I've never been inspired by science before while creating any ceramic work. I thought this was a really interesting opportunity, to interpret scientific concepts in my own specific way. I have more of an appreciation for nature and science, I’ve realized how connected it all is.” 

The exhibit will run until Sept. 14 and is open to the public Thursday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. 


ASU senior Emily Bauer's interpretation of a microscopic view of succulent of a succulent at ASU's, "Sculpting Science," exhibit in downtown Phoenix, Arizona on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.


Lora Vance, a senior studying ceramics and painting, contributed three humanoid sculptures depicting cancer cells, hive-think and bacteriophages as her addition to the exhibit. 

“Some lucky artists stumble upon subject matter they become passionate about, and are able to follow a path that leads from the origins of their work," Vance said. "Others look for inspiration in unlikely places. And this is where the connection to science is becoming a driving force for inspiring artists to create original work. By delving into the microscopic world of cells, to the vastness of outer space, artists can communicate awe and delight to the art enthusiast they would otherwise not be exposed.” 


Reach the reporter at artayl14@asu.edu and follow @abigailtay78 on Twitter. 

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