Coinciding with the “Inner and Outer Space” exhibit, NASA affiliated artists Monica and Tyler Aiello completed a residency at Wheaton this past week. In addition to visiting four classes and eating “bad Chinese food,” as Gallery Director Michele L’Heureux joked, they also taught an art-making workshop.
Monica and Tyler Aiello’s work focuses on visual representations of planets and the cosmos. Their workshop “Art and the Cosmos” combined a talk on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, given by professor of Physics and Geology, Jeff Collins. His talk covered the use of radar imaging to collect data on what the surface of Titan looked like. Collins explained how radar data worked, so that students would be able to interpret the radar images they were going to be creating art from.
While radar imaging isn’t often considered art, many of the images Collins displayed were quite beautiful. As they have throughout their careers, the Aiellos helped bridge the seeming gap between science and art for the students in the workshop. “We’re doing art today—there’s no right or wrong,” said Monica Aiello. Both Monica and Tyler stressed that artistic images of scientific matter were heavily driven by individual interpretation.
Each student created a tile that corresponded with one section of a radar image of Titan. Put together, the tiles create an artistically interpreted version of Titan’s surface. “The great part of Titan science is we know so little that you can’t be wrong,” said Collins.
The Aiellos made themselves available to help students through their work, and were constantly providing encouragement to those who seemed daunted by working with scientific data. “Science is here to inspire the art creation,” said Monica Aiello.
The workshop was successful in harmonizing art and science, along with all the other unique perspectives students brought to the room. To celebrate the opening of the Mars Science Center, most of the recent gallery exhibits have addressed different interdisciplinary themes in the arts, viewed through a scientific, as well as humanities lens. The Gallery Director, Michele L’Heureux is always looking to engage students through exhibits and programming, and the art-making workshop was certainly a success.
The next exhibit, The Observant Eye, will open March 5.