There is a long-lived stereotype surrounding art and science, which causes people to see the two fields as mutually exclusive. According to Dr. Kristi Charish in her article for the journal Society for Canadian Women In Science and Technology, this dichotomous behavior comes from our mind’s tendency to categorize a subject as either “art” or “science.” However, Charish argues that both art and science are at their very best when combined, as demonstrated by historic figures such as Leonardo and Galileo.
This dichotomy inspired WonderLab Museum Educator Jared Katz in his vision for the upcoming WonderLab 21+ event After Dark: Art in Bloom, Saturday, August 25 from 6 to 9 p.m.
“Bloomington has a long and rich history of engaging with different art forms, and WonderLab wants to honor that history especially during the bicentennial,” says Katz. “Bloomington has a wealth of local artists in a variety of media as well as a large number of renowned scientists. It’s amazing that both of these fields thrive in Bloomington, and I believe this happens, in large part, because of each other.”
For this unique celebration, WonderLab is fusing the enthusiasm for art and science into a single, spectacular evening event. Visitors are invited to explore unique aspects of the Bloomington science and art scenes and celebrate the ways in which these creative industries intersect, including photography, robots, dance, and music.
One of the many artists who will be present at the event is Bloomington-based, representational painter Meg Lagodzki. According to her website, Lagodzki is “drawn to elements both natural and manipulated that have an element of mystery or unease.” Her recent works — large-scale representational paintings of the abandoned quarries common to the area — evoke this mystery and unease while also revealing a majesty and depth of emotion.
“Meg didn’t necessarily set out to use painting to teach geology, but the act of painting these beautiful natural formations can be used to examine geology,” says Katz. “It is a beauty that is scientifically rooted and inspires on multiple levels. That’s why we’re so excited that she will be a part of After Dark: Art in Bloom.”
“Southern Indiana limestone formations are aesthetically gorgeous but also contain a lot of information,” Katz says. “When we look at them through multiple perspectives we get a more holistic understanding of the formations themselves as well as the awesome power of time.”
Providing the “science POV” to Lagodzki’s aesthetics will be scientists from the Indiana Geological and Water Survey (IGWS). The mission of the IGWS is to provide geologic information and counsel that contribute to the health, safety, and welfare of Indiana’s citizenry. According to the IGWS website, since 1837 the group has been specifically charged with providing “information for the wise stewardship and sustainable use of the energy, mineral, and water resources of the state while enhancing the natural environment.”
“Both artists and scientists really care about finding ways to better understand the world and represent the world in different ways,” says Katz. “Collaborations between those two fields creates more ways to present this information — to connect what these innovators find fascinating and to share it with others.”
Visitors, scientists, and artists alike will find something to inspire their passions at After Dark: Art in Bloom, including a variety of live musical performances. Paramus, a cover band featuring hits from the 1990s emo group Paramour, will be rocking out in the gallery. A performance of classical selections performed by a traditional quartet with musicians from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music is scheduled to take place in the WonderGarden (weather permitting).
“Music is clearly embedded throughout the human experience,” says Katz. “And the Bloomington musical experience is extremely varied and important. We scheduled very different groups to celebrate a broad spectrum of musical styles. Weather permitting, we plan to layer this experience so visitors can move between and explore the two genres.”
Another blend of science and art on display will be Distinguished Professor of Biology Roger Hangarter’s Emmy-award-winning, time-lapse photography that explores cellular biology and captures the beauty of native Bloomington insects and plants.
“Different approaches and media bring science messages to a broader group,” says Katz. “Art creates understanding about complex topics.” Case in point — Indiana University’s School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering will display an interactive art exhibit built out of robots that illustrates data flow and input. “The robots are also very fun to play with,” notes Katz.
The full event lineup includes a variety of celebrated local artists and scientists with activities across the spectrum. Theater arts and make-up will be presented by the John Waldron Arts Center. Kinetic movement and dance will be explored through Couples Swing Dance lessons taught by nationally renowned dance instructor Mary Hoedeman Coniaris. Delve into the art of literature and discuss the written word with local and nationally known authors Scott Russell Sanders and James Alexander Thom.
As always, ticket holders will have complete access to all of WonderLab’s hands-on exhibits and special event activities and experiments — plus treats from new Bloomington eatery The Hive. Drinks from the Bloomington Brewing Company, Friendly Beasts, and Oddball Fermentables will be available for purchase.
“Art has the ability to pique people’s interest in topics they might not have otherwise considered,” says Katz, who holds a Ph.D. in anthropology with a focus on Maya archaeology. “I remember the first time I saw the work of Tatiana Proskouriakoff, who did amazing reconstruction drawings of Maya cities. Seeing those drawings is one of the things that made me want to study Maya Archaeology. Art was my entrance to science.”
The 2018 WonderLab After Dark Series is sponsored by Griffin Realty and Mira Salon & Spa. WonderLab is a proud member of the Bloomington community and supporter of the Bloomington Bicentennial. Advance tickets for WonderLab After Dark: Art in Bloom can be purchased online at $15 for members, $18 for non-members. Day-of-event tickets can be purchased for $20 at the door. Ticket price includes museum admission, shows, activities, food and soft drinks.
To learn more about WonderLab After Dark: Art in Bloom, visit WonderLab Science Museum’s Facebook page. And to keep up-to-date with all of WonderLab’s hands-on, educational adult programs, follow @WonderLab on Twitter and Instagram, and follow Jared Katz, Museum Educator: Adult and Secondary Education Specialist, @museumeduc8or on Twitter.