Stomachs, stars, and the solar eclipse inspired some of the entries that rose to the top of the fourth annual Science as Art contest. The contest, sponsored by LSA’s Science Learning Center, Arts at Michigan, and ArtsEngine, drew entries from students across campus.
Students artistically encapsulated scientific themes in their submitted sculptures, videos, music, photographs, poems, short stories, paintings, and digital sketches. A panel of judges picked the winners in February—congratulations to the grand prize winners, Anna Brooks and Joe Iovino, for their video, Magnetic Shield—and we display some of the best pieces below.
Now you be the judge! Or enjoy them all.
A Star’s Life, by Anna Ferguson
Anna Ferguson, a junior in LSA and the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, used Adobe Photoshop to create a celestial, digitally illustrated series. Ferguson says, “As a dual-majored Art and Design and Interdisciplinary Astronomy student, I’m constantly seeking out ways to bring my two degrees together. A Star’s Life is a seven-panel series depicting the birth and death of a medium-sized star. Panel one [top-left image] shows a massive molecular cloud where star formation could easily take place. Panel two [top-right image] focuses on a specific, small area of the cloud where our star is in its protostellar phase, swirling and gathering mass. Panel three [bottom-left image] shows that as the star is forming, many millions of individual rocky bodies are coalescing into a protoplanetary disk around it. Panel four [bottom-right image] depicts the star at a similar stage as our sun today. Panels five and six show the star expanding and growing redder in color as it runs low on hydrogen, its main source of fuel. Finally, panel seven is the star in its planetary-nebula phase, when it has blown off all of its outer layers, only leaving a small, dense core—a white dwarf. When viewers see this series, I want for them to find as much wonder in astronomical objects as I do in my studies of astrophysics.”
Portraits of Microbiology, by Abrielle Cacciaglia
LSA senior Abrielle Cacciaglia says, “My academic career as a biology student has been peppered with scientific history, often by way of learning about procedures and systems called by the surnames of their creators—the Doppler effect, decibels, Alzheimer’s. So much of our everyday language is an unconscious reference to pioneers of years past. My piece is a series of three portraits, each one a man who contributed to the field of microbiology: Robert Koch, who investigated causative agents of several diseases and created Koch’s four postulates of disease; Louis Pasteur, who was renowned for his discoveries in pasteurization, vaccination, and fermentation; and Hans Christian Joachim Gram, who developed the Gram staining technique, which is used to differentiate and classify bacterial species. The display references microbiology’s partner field of microscopy, with a functional knob to bring each image into focus.”
Perspective, by Gregory Gicewicz, Jr.
Gregory Gicewicz, Jr., a College of Engineering sophomore, photographed this image of the 2017 solar eclipse that he traveled to see. “Capturing this image required a three-hour journey south for me and my father, starting in Olympia, Washington, and ending in Dallas, Oregon. We arrived at our shooting location in the early morning. Even six hours before the eclipse, the roads were saturated with eager eclipse viewers. I placed a filter on my telescope to protect it from the sun’s harsh rays that would otherwise melt the sensors. Perspective can make airplanes the size of planets and moons the size of stars. In this photo, we first see the sun. Overlaying the sun, we see our moon, ostensibly the same size as our sun. Also visible in this image is a small aircraft. This one image changed my perspective on our place in the solar system. I do not feel small; rather, I feel empowered by it. Our solar system is massive, yet we have the ability to explore it, to study it.”
“Biotechnics,” by Jerry Arlen Jones
LSA’s History and Screen Arts and Cultures senior Jerry Arlen Jones was one of the winners in last year’s competition for his orchestral score that represented the big bang, the origin of the universe. This year, he composed music that uses guitars, synthesizers, pianos, a drum kit, and heavy audio manipulation to represent the chemistry behind calm. Jones says, “This piece of music is designed to represent the release of serotonin in the body by producing that same serotonin type of calm in the listener’s brain. The dark, minor-chord beginning has a liquid-like texture that prepares the listener for an unusual audio experience. I believe the end result has a certain tranquility contained within an overall madness, not unlike the human experience of these biological processes. I tried to design something that moved and calmed me. It is my hope that the piece inspires a physical response within you, too.”
Detail of “How to Be a Stomach,” by Hollyann Stewart
Hollyann Stewart, a sophomore in the Stamps School of Art & Design, says, “My motivation originates in my desire to serve as both a scientist and a storyteller within the context of art. I genuinely love learning, whether it be about a scientific concept or a family member’s life story, and I enjoy the challenge of conveying newly acquired information to others. In ‘How to Be a Stomach,’ I wanted to create an illustration that accurately explains a scientific process in a fun and engaging way. Mr. Churnley narrates the process of digestion, essentially serving as the viewer’s human body tour guide. I created my own tubular ‘stomach’ font for the title that highlights Mr. Churnley’s playfully plump features. Through both scientific and artistic methods, this illustration aims to give viewers a better understanding of the process of digestion in an entertaining way.”