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06/16/2005 07:00:00

Exhibit Explores Intersection of Art & Science

PASADENA, Calif.- There was a time when art and science were closely aligned, and often practiced by the same people. Leonardo da Vinci is a well-known example of this. After more than a century of growing intellectual specialization the relationship between art and science became distant and the practitioners, estranged. However, science has recently exposed society to unprecedented change and provocative new ideas, and as a result artists have begun to engage with science as part of their creative inquiry.

A new exhibition by the California Institute of Technology and the Armory Center for the Arts, both in Pasadena, called AxS: At the Intersection of Art & Science, explores this artistic investigation while considering new methods of scientific outreach, as well as the increasing understanding of how art and science can influence one another. The exhibit, sponsored by the Pasadena Art Alliance, will take place June 26 to Sept. 4 at Caltech and the Armory Center.

The exhibition features artists whose existing work explores the shifting boundaries between art and science, two of humanity's oldest disciplines.

AxS looks at new methods of scientific outreach, as well as attempting to increase our understanding of how art and science can influence one another. The exhibition will have special interest for the community as it will not only bring art and science together, but it will begin an ongoing partnership between an important art institution, the Armory Center, and a major science institution, Caltech, where the relationships between these two disciplines can be explored over time and in depth.

Jill Andrews, director of educational outreach projects at Caltech, sees art as a means of conveying the complexities of science to a broad audience, while also inciting a sense of wonder and awe. "Science communities are increasingly aware of the need to find novel methods of informing the public about what they do," she said.

The exhibition begins with a panel discussion on the connections between art and science with artists Jim Campbell and Eric Johnson, and Caltech mechanical engineering graduate student Ann Marie Polsenberg Thomas. Stephen Nowlin, director of the Williamson Gallery at Art Center College of Design, will serve as moderator. It will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. June 25 in the Card Room at Caltech's Athenaeum, 551 South Hill Avenue, at the northwest corner of the intersection of Hill Avenue and California Boulevard in Pasadena.

Polsenberg Thomas also will teach an introductory robotics class at the Armory in July. The class is open to ages 13-18. For more information, go to the Armory's website,, or call (626) 792-5101, ext. 121.

Jim Campbell will create an installation in the Athenaeum lobby, which will be open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free.

Campbell was trained as a mathematician and engineer and creates interactive video installations that involve the viewer. His piece at Caltech will reference works that already exist at the Athenaeum or replace those works with low-resolution LED pieces.

Also on June 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. the Armory Center will present works by artists Jim Campbell, Russell Crotty, Natalie Jeremijenko and Robert Twomey, Eric Johnson, Nancy Macko and Robert Valenza, Gene Genies Worldwide, Olga Seem, and Catherine Wagner. All artists will be represented in the Armory's Susan and John Caldwell Gallery, 145 North Raymond Avenue. It is open Tuesday to Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Admission is free.

Russell Crotty is an amateur astronomer and, like astronomers before the development of photography, documents his astronomical observations with exceptionally detailed drawings; his recent monumental book of star charts will be on view. Natalie Jeremijenko is a design engineer and technoartist; her installations in the exhibition are a collaboration with Robert Twomey and involves visitors' interactions with robotic animals and images of what some of these animals might do. Eric Johnson's beautifully constructed and finished sculptures are inspired by cosmology and mathematics, from black holes to non-Euclidean geometry. The video and wall installation by artist Nancy Macko and mathematician Robert Valenza explores the relationships between prime numbers (numbers that can only be divided by one). Gene Genies Worldwide's large-scale sculptural installation explores the conjunction of genetic engineering and consumer culture. Olga Seem's paintings and drawings are inspired by her knowledge of botany and human physiology. Catherine Wagner's photographs decode the times we live in through various themes including science; works from her large-scale series History of Science will be included in the exhibition.

The exhibition is curated by Jay Belloli, the Armory's director of gallery programs, and Nowlin. AxS is implemented by Belloli and Caltech's Andrews. ###


Jill Perry Caltech (626) 395-3226

Sophia Bicos Armory Center for the Arts (626) 792-5101, ext. 134

Visit the Caltech Media Relations Web site at: Visit the Armory Center Web site at:

Written by Jill Perry