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Graduate students meld science and art together in Borland Gallery exhibition

November 26, 2013

The Sci-Art Graduate Student Exhibition, an exhibit featuring scientific and artistic collaborations between graduate students from the colleges of Arts and Architecture, Engineering, Health and Human Development, and the Department of Psychology, will be on display in the Borland Gallery on the Penn State University Park campus, Dec. 2-5. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. An opening night reception will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, in the gallery.

Sci-Art is a result of a Studio|Lab project designed to bring together graduate students and faculty from a variety of fields to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration. Working throughout this semester, seven three-person teams of students, supported by faculty from represented colleges and departments as well as Studio|Lab, focused their creative energy into the project which is reflected in the complexity and diversity of the work presented.

Studio|Lab is a research initiative at Penn State that emerged from the idea that the arts and sciences are complementary. In its most literal sense, Studio|Lab is a “studio” for scientists to refine the aesthetic dimension of their work, and a “laboratory” for artists to test the performance and impact of their work.

The teams displaying their work:

Lauren Bangerter (human development and family studies), Xiaojiao Shao (art), Chujun Zeng (art): Evoking memories through photos is one of the best ways to remind an Alzheimer’s patient of important people, events, and places. This team designed a memory game, based on empirical findings, for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers to play together.

Lo Ou (human development and family studies), Xin Wen (art), Mengya Xia (human development and family studies): Family relationship data are reinterpreted in the form of wind chimes. Differences between families in aspects of parent-child closeness and conflict are experienced through sound.

Brandon McDaniel (human development and family studies), Richard Proffitt (engineering), Kelly Wilton (art): Social sciences often focus on the individual without sufficient attention to the effects of others on individual behavior. This team’s piece uses light and projections to emphasize the interconnections between people.

Matthew Howard (psychology), Kyle Kresge (music performance), Aaron Ziolkowski (art history): Pop-up spaces consisting of artwork and music were installed on campus in order to encourage creativity. The results of this experiment are presented.

Wyatt Culler (engineering), Steven Read (art), Andrew Whalen (engineering): This team’s piece focuses on the processes behind interdisciplinary collaboration, highlighting the conversations that occur when people from different fields are brought together.

Dengke Chen (art), Rachel Koffer (human development and family studies), Anna Margush (art): Graphical displays from stress research and photographs of an individual experiencing stressors can be thought of as simply two different forms of data - numeric and narrative. The relationships between the media of three disciplines - empirical data, photographs, and animations - are explored through integrated projections in order to demonstrate the common aim of these different media - to explore and illuminate daily human experience.

Kristine Bova (human development and family studies), Kate Brennan (art education), Evan West (art): With the rise of the internet and spontaneous posting, a variety of processes related to identity constructionare emerging online. Through the use of prompts relating to various domains of identity on popular social media sites, the construction of online identity was explored.

Guidance was provided by the following faculty and staff:

College of Arts & Architecture: Andrew Belser, professor of theatre, Michael Collins, instructor of new media, Bill Doan, professor of theatre, and Andrew Schulz, associate dean for research, associate professor of art history;

College of Health & Human Development: Sy-Miin Chow, associate professor, Greg Fosco, assistant professor, Lisa Gatzke-Kopp, associate professor, and Charles Geier, assistant professor;

Studio|Lab: Matthew Kenney, M.F.A. candidate, David Lydon, human development and family studies graduate student, Brian Orland, andNilam Ram.

Brian Orland, distinguished professor of landscape architecture, and Nilam Ram, associate professor of human development and family studies, are co-directors of Studio|Lab. They make use of and develop ‘time-oriented’ technologies, study designs and interdisciplinary paradigms to understand how and why individuals and contexts change over their life spans.

One of the presenting teams will be invited to represent Penn State at the Emerging Creatives Student Conference at Stanford University, Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2014. The conference, supported by the Alliance for Arts in Research Universities, held its inaugural year at Penn State in March 2013. For more information, click here.

To learn more about Studio|Lab, visit

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