Science and art often fall into separate categories when it comes to classes, professions and even museums. Incorporating both in all three of these categories seems almost impossible. Yet, the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Santa Fe College Art Gallery managed to do just that. Florida Museum of Natural History Educator Chelsea Collison, and Santa Fe College Art Gallery Manager Kyle Novak came together to create free events for artists and scientists alike, appropriately named SciArt.
“A lot of times, people will separate arts and science – even museums,” Collison said. “Here we have the natural history museum right next to the art museum, but rarely do we collide, but in the natural world, that’s not true. There’s art in everything you see.”
Collison said she had frequently noticed artists attempting to sketch exhibits at the museum while children and families walked through, making it difficult for the artists to work.
“When I would see things like that, I thought that it would be awesome if we could set aside a special time just for artists to be in the museum in order to be inspired and engaged with our exhibits and create art that reflects things that we show here at the museum,” Collison said.
With that in mind, the Florida Museum partnered with Santa Fe College Art Gallery to host SciArt meetups. Each event incorporates a different topic and presents a scientist/artist to speak on the subject. The previous meetups included topics such as insects, water and fossils.
“We’ve had Margaret Ross Tolbert, who is a springs advocate, talk about how she is inspired by the science and importance of the springs and how that relates to her artwork,” Collison said.
Additionally, Jiri Hulcr, a forest entomologist, spoke at the insect meetup.
“He came and talked about bark beetles and how he creates artwork using the bark that beetles have used to make homes and lay eggs in,” Collison said.
After the presentations, artists can walk around the museum and find inspiration from the exhibits to create their own art specific to the theme of the event. For instance, artists explored the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity in order to gain inspiration from the butterflies and moths that were displayed during the insect event.
“We provide the artists with a studio space – our museum classrooms,” Collison said. Artists are required to bring their own art supplies, although the museum will provide collections for artists to observe in the classrooms, such as fossils from the education collection and drawers from the insect collection.
Although participants must be 18 or older, the events welcome artists that work in a variety of mediums, from painting and drawing to sculpture. Furthermore, the artists range from undergraduate and graduate students to retirees.
Novak explained how SciArt creates a collaborative community for participants to meet new people similarly interested in both science and art. Additionally, these events give artists access to the museum’s collections, as well as the opportunity to meet with science experts that incorporate art into their work.
SciArt August Meet Up: Plants
Sunday, Aug. 19
(includes “Butterfly Rainforest”)
9 a.m.-12 p.m.
SciArt September Meet Up:
Tuesday, Sept. 11
SciArt November Meet Up:
Tuesday, Nov. 13
Check out the SciArt Meet Up
Facebook page for more
Artists that missed the first three events still have three more opportunities to participate in SciArt. The fall events will include plants, mammals and indigenous peoples. Participants must pre-register on the Florida Museum website due to limited space.
For art lovers, an upcoming show at the Santa Fe College Art Gallery will display artwork that participants created at the SciArt events, Novak said. The opening reception will be on February 8th from 7-9pm. The free exhibit will remain open at the Santa Fe College Gallery until March 15th.
“The culmination of the six events will be to have this gallery reception,” Novak said. “We’ll host the work that’ll be done by the people that attended these events and hopefully have some elements from the museum’s collection to really encapsulate the idea of what the whole show is about.”
While science and art are still frequently viewed as separate entities, SciArt continues to break the boundaries between them.
Novak anticipates that the show will incorporate paintings, drawings, sculpture and other types of artwork from the participants of the SciArt events. Collison added that the exhibit will include artwork from the speakers as well.
While science and art are still frequently viewed as separate entities, SciArt continues to break the boundaries between them. From fossils to water, these meetups offer a little something for anyone seeking a place to learn more about science and incorporate it into art.