I want to start by thanking the folks at SciArt for choosing me to be in the residency program. I
have thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. Meeting Ken and talking to him every week gave me
a really neat opportunity to think WAY outside the box. So I am really happy for that. Also,
depending on how things go, this program might change the trajectory of my career! Which is
both exciting and scary!
I’ve been brainstorming a lot about how to find a job in St Louis, and I think this project is multi-
faceted and cool enough that I could figure out a way to take this work and start out on my own
and do science independently. There is a real lack of scientists that work across the art
boundary, but I think this connection provides a way for people to connect more deeply with
science. So I think it would be possible to find ways to get local schools involved in the creation
and monitoring of this project, especially because it is so place-based. The prairie restorations
could be used as a petridish for students to learn the scientific method in a real-life way, and
also explore their artistic interests. I don’t think I would have even considered going out on my
own if it hadn’t been for working with Ken and seeing the interest in SciArt. And also learning
more about the SciArt center - a very neat organization.
Regardless of what I do with my life, Ken and I fully intend to continue working on our project.
We still have a bit more thinking to do about the exact art and science we want to do, but we
are getting a lot closer to having a concrete idea that is sell-able to funders. We both have
some catching up to do on our own work, but plan to resume our conversations about this
project in February.
One thing I will take away from this collaboration, is that it’s worthwhile to think more deeply
about why you are doing a specific project. In the science world, ideas come fairly cheaply, so
what I have enjoyed about working with Ken is that I have learned it is totally ok to want to
emotionally connect to the work you are doing. Whether that be through the work itself or
through the people you are collaborating with, or both, the work is way more enjoyable if you
feel really strongly about it. And one thing I wouldn’t have explicitly realized unless being asked
to write about the collaboration process ever week, is that I really enjoyed spending some
dedicated time at the beginning of our collaboration getting to know each other. I think I will
insist on this for most of my science-specific (and other) collaborations in the future. It allowed
me to trust Ken more, and feel more comfortable being myself.
The SciArt bridge residency has been very rewarding for me, and I am so grateful I had the
Blogged while listening to Green Day (this was my graduation song, it felt appropriate).
With the residency coming to a close, I have taken some time to look back on the experience.
Beginning this collaboration with Lauren, I had no idea what to expect, which direction it would
go, what kind of project (if any) might result? I think that was also very helpful. Starting with a
blank slate of sorts - no expectations or agenda, allowed the natural flow of two people
becoming friends and sharing ideas. I feel extremely fortunate to have been paired with Lauren.
When considering a science art collaboration there is a challenge of integration. Looking back
on the nature of our collaboration, I see the first couple interactions as being the most
influential in this regard. We allowed ourselves to step back from our own investigations and
get to know each other. For me, letting go of my primary work freed me to explore other ideas
and interests. After this point, we could start from step zero - find out other common interests
(for us: chaos theory, site specificity in the urban context, public education/ engagement,
mediation, weather and plants as material, etc.) Building from these concepts we were able to
explore and grow half formed ideas and through repeated conversations clarify a direction.
(This was an example of our shared confidence and intuition of our partnership, that we would
figure out a subject/ project despite the uncertainty of its beginning.) In this process and now
proposed project, I feel we achieved an equal balance of science and art. For me this was of
essential importance- to make sure the art was not just a visualization of scientific information
or a decoration for a research site. The art needed to be embedded in the science and the
science needed to be embedded in the art - you can’t take them apart and still have either
Scientific research provides new insight to the world. Art provides new ways of thinking. I think
practitioners of both fields have always been drawn to the other as it provides new territories
to explore. Growth and forward movement are shared traits. Beyond forming a great friendship
with Lauren I feel lucky to have had this experience. She exposed me to so much in terms of
scientific methodology, question posing, focus and clarity of research. This all accompanies
what she shared about mapping, plant migration, seed dispersal and the generational time arc
involved. These concepts were illuminating to say the least. I am grateful to have learned about
processes that unfold all around us continually yet normally escape our notice- an opportunity
for discovery. I think this was a hallmark of our working together, a sharing of inspiration,
working process, and a sounding board for ideas.
Lastly, I think our collaboration was successful for the fact that it will continue. Lauren and I are
in process on finishing our proposal and beginning the search for funding. Our project of
creating an earthwork to affect turbulence and seed dispersal to naturally restock grass lands
will take place in abandoned urban lots. It will provide the local community with a view into on-
going scientific research and the continual presence of an artwork in an underserved
neighborhood. This is the capstone for me - the realization of a project I never would have
dreamed of without this collaboration with Lauren.