While the Science Learning Center (SLC) is a cosponsor of the Science as Art Contest for UM undergraduates, we also employ an outstanding artist of our own. Barb Oliver, the SLC’s Office Manager for the past 13 years, now has a collection of her outstanding photography on display throughout the SLC’s main location in 1720 Chemistry as well as the Satellite Location in 2165 Undergraduate Science Building (USB).
Like many photographers, Barb is not afraid to take risks for the perfect shot. On one winter excursion, she ventured out onto the ice under the Mackinac Bridge when she suddenly found her feet slipping out from beneath her. Both photographer and camera (a Canon 70D) went skittering across the ice, but luckily neither was seriously injured.
Although Barb has ventured to other wintry locations such as the Munising ice caves, her favorite locations to photograph are warm and tropical, including Key West and the Pacific Northwest. Some of the photos displayed in the SLC are taken from a recent trip she took to Washington State, including the Hoh rainforest, a beach in Olympic National Park, and Neah Bay.
While Barb loves to travel and practice her craft in new and exotic locations, she can often be found much closer to home visiting sites around Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsula. One trip Barb suggests was part planned and part being lost allowed her to photograph 13 lighthouses along the western coast of Michigan. Some of Barb’s Michigan photos in the SLC include a crane she photographed at Kensington Metropark in Milford, sunflowers from a field in Hartland, and an owl from the Howell Nature Center. Her collection of Michigan photographs recently won a contest, with Barb’s work chosen by the patients and staff of the Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit to be displayed there.
“My interest in photography started when I was a teenager, but really I’ve started focusing on it in the last ten years,” said Barb. While her photos decorating the SLC demonstrate a love for natural landscapes, Barb also has a talent for capturing candid photos. Much of the SLC’s publicity, including the center’s website, utilizes Barb’s photographs of students and staff within the SLC.
Barb would love to continue to develop her passion for photography, hoping to one day open her own photography studio and sell her photos to the public. In March, she will be heading off to Belize on her next photo excursion. But before you plan your destination nuptials to coincide with her trip, you should know there is one occasion Barb refuses to photography.
“Weddings!” she says with a wry smile.