The national educational movement to promote the seamless working relationship of science and art has taken the next step, teaming up the UCF School of Visual Arts & Design and the Orlando Science Center with a permanent new gallery of science-inspired artwork.
“Fusion: A STEAM Gallery” is the name of the new gallery space on the science center’s third-floor mezzanine that will be filled with artwork from the university. The STEAM name combines the STEM acronym of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics with the “A” to represent Art.
“It is so important that our students do not separate the sciences and arts in their learning experience,” said art professor Carla Poindexter and curator of the exhibits. “Science and the arts have always been interwoven. Our students in the SVAD gain so much when they know more about science, and the reverse is true with the STEM students.”
Yulia Tikhonova, UCF Art Gallery director, worked with the science center to develop the idea of hosting paintings, sculptures, animations, graphic designs and other UCF artworks among the center’s dinosaur bones, telescopic views of the stars and hands-on exhibits.
There will be four planned exhibits a year to engage visitors with visual interpretations of scientific concepts, Poindexter said. Artists also will show how STEM has influenced their work and showcase the similarities between art and science.
“Imagination and creativity are at the heart of both art and science,” said Jeff Stanford, vice president of marketing at the science center. “It is very important to use art to provide a new perspective on science. Artists and scientists use several of the same skills in pursuit of their goals, including critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, flexibility and adaptability, and social and cross-cultural skills. These skill sets are essential for success in both fields.”
Both institutions hope that exhibit visitors leave with a better understanding of the synergy between art and science. More than half of the 535,000 who visited the center in 2015 were under 17 years old, Tikhonova said.
“Both UCF and OSC play key roles in creating the next generation of STEM professionals—UCF in higher education and OSC through youth engagement in hands-on science, technology and engineering activities,” she said.
Stanford added: “We hope the gallery ignites the scientific curiosity in art lovers and stimulates a newfound respect for art in the science-minded. For the science center, it’s a very exciting opportunity to work with artists on exhibitions that display how science and technology have influenced their work while bringing to light the similarities between these two disciplines.”
The artists whose works will be featured through June 24 are Clayton Dunklin, a bachelor’s of fine art major, and Forrest DeBloi, who is working on his master’s of fine art. Both contributed art on the themes of animals and Earth Day. Some of DeBlois’ work can be seen on public and private buildings in Florida showing endangered and extinct animals.
Fusion: A STEAM Gallery is included with admission to the Orlando Science Center, 777 E. Princeton St.