Science and art are usually considered complete opposites: The former is objective, measured and factual, while the latter is intuitive, emotional and expressive. But what about the processes used by both scientists and artists? Don't they both involve curiosity, imagination, discovery and observation?
Is it possible that scientists and artists employ similar methods to arrive at completely different end results?
That's the question that inspired Hypothesis: Process in Science and Art, the first show in the newly renovated science building (now known as Centennial Hall) that houses GOCA 1420. The show's curator, Daisy McConnell, is also the new co-director of the Galleries of Contemporary Art at UCCS (which also includes GOCA 121 downtown). Previously a gallery manager and assistant to the curator at Colorado College, McConnell now shares director and curator roles with Caitlin Green, who has overseen GOCA since August 2008.
"I'm very excited for the new opportunities," McConnell says. "Caitlin has laid a very strong groundwork for cultural programming that expands beyond the traditional confines of an exhibition experience."
This exhibit certainly qualifies as non-traditional, bordering on experimental. Hypothesis displays the research of five scientists alongside the work of four artists. The scientists are all UCCS faculty members, with PhDs in disciplines ranging from geography to chemistry to anthropology. They were paired with artists whose work or interests seemed to make a good fit. The result is an incredibly rich, diverse multimedia experience.
For example, Minette Church, an associate professor of anthropology, will present artifacts and photos from her research project at the Lopez Homestead, built in 1870 near La Junta. Erin Elder, who teaches experimental artistic practices at UCCS, will respond by leading class sessions to build an installation of adobe bricks around the artifacts. "The experience will cross the boundaries between artistic installation and hands-on anthropology," says McConnell.
Hypothesis also features the work of Chris Coleman, an artist and assistant professor at the University of Denver. Coleman studied mechanical engineering as an undergraduate, and when Brandon Vogt, an assistant professor at UCCS, shared his research on lightning strikes, Coleman responded by building a kinetic sculpture that projects video.
A third project presents Curt Holder's research examining the significance of the water repellency properties of leaves, which inspired Scott Johnson, who teaches at Colorado College, to create a water-based installation for the exhibit.
Finally, Los Angeles-based artist Kim Abeles' work from her "Smog Collector" series, for which she received national and international attention in the 1990s, will also be featured in the show.
"She had pre-existing work that tied in well with Dr. Janel Owens' research in environmental chemistry, and Dr. David Weiss' work in analytical chemistry," McConnell explains.
Lectures in conjunction with the exhibit are planned for four consecutive Thursdays starting Sept. 30, which will allow the scientists and artists to discuss their individual processes and what they discovered about the connections between them.
"The creativity involved in both scientific and artistic endeavors is what I really wanted to examine," says McConnell. "It's about a process of discovery."