Mar 072010
Authors: Dan Mager

Senior sculpture major Megan Tilley’s nervous system isn’t anatomically correct.

Where the nerves and heart should be, there is instead fragile and intricate glass networks and copper wiring. But it’s art, so it works.

This model of a man and woman’s upper nervous system –– used to represent the way nerves are used to cope with relationships and emotional feelings –– was one of the 39 pieces on display at the 5th annual Art and Science Exhibition at the Curfman Gallery Friday.

These were only a fraction of the 185 submissions –– the most in the exhibition’s history, said Nick Croghan, the Lory Student Center Arts manager.

This year’s show stayed true to its name, displaying more pieces that successfully integrated art and science, those involved with the exhibition said. In previous years, most pieces were either artistic or scientific.

“… there is a growing movement among artists, not to just use the latest technology (lasers, computer painting, etc.), but to illustrate scientific principles in their art,” Jan Nerger, interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences, told a crowd of about 35 people who turned out for the show.

“The Art and Science exhibition explores this interplay between science and art,” she said.

Upon entering the gallery, a floor-to-ceiling depiction of the eye’s cone cell, or photoreceptor cell, caught the attention of visitors. Narrowed as it reached the floor, “Cones,” Jenna Gonzales’ piece, faded from purple to white, representing the way the human eye perceives color.

A series of different views of a leaf’s veins up to 160 times magnification and viewed through a symbolic wooden microscope took first prize.

The piece, created by art graduate student Wendy Franzen, was representative of the invention of tools and how they are used to analyze natural forms from unique perspectives.

Gonzales’ “Cones” won an Honorable Mention, as did Anton Betton’s “Barack Obama,” a print portrait of the president created using a “local search algorithm” and several sets of dominos.

The algorithm was designed to arrange and multiply images of the domino sets in such a way that when viewed from a distance, the image became that of Obama.

Sculptures and prints were not the only medium involved in the exhibition, as nearly every form of art had its place.

Senior natural science major Kristen Hosek’s “Forest Mosaic” was done entirely with a black ballpoint pen, while junior art major Erik Wangsvick’s “Our Shared Environment” included a series of tape players pumping the sounds of the city, the planes and the foothills into the atmosphere of the exhibit.

Senior zoology major Benjamin Pauls’ “Azureus Haven,” a mixed-media display, housed real animals, soil and plants within a tank. The exhibit communicated the importance of properly maintaining the tank’s environment and aesthetic appeal.

As the crowd gathered to celebrate the art and its award winners, associate art professor Haley Bates thanked the staff for creating a “beautiful exhibition” before the viewers dispersed and entered into quiet conversation about the show.

“I think (the show) is the best that we’ve had,” Nerger said in her speech.

The exhibition, located in the Curfman Gallery on the first floor of the LSC, will run until April 7. The show is free to the public and open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Staff writer Dan Mager can be reached at

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