Falk Library Exhibit Highlights Scientists' Art

When you think of science at Pitt, you might think of world-renowned research or articles in peer-reviewed journals or polio vaccines and zebrafish.

You probably don’t think of art.

But if you visit the Scientists as Artists 2018 Reprise exhibit in the upper floor study area in Scaife Hall’s Falk Library now through Jan. 16, you can view a gallery of paintings, photographs and other media created by faculty and staff who work in Pitt labs. While some works were part of Science 2018, the University’s annual science and technology event, many pieces have not been seen previously.

For more than a decade, Donna Stolz, associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology, and Jonathan Franks, electron microscopy lab manager in the Center for Biologic Imaging, curated Science as Art as the art exhibit at Pitt’s annual science and technology events. Highlighting the artistic side of research, previous years’ exhibits have explored virtual reality, microscopy and cancer-fighting treatments.

This year, Esra Bozkurt, a researcher in the Department of Structural Biology, suggested expanding the call for submissions to feature artwork by fellow Pitt scientists. Bozkurt had participated in a similar exhibit during her studies at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and mentioned the experience to Stolz and Franks.

“They knew whom to contact to bring it to life,” Bozkurt said. “I think it shows scientists can do inspiring things beyond their research, and exhibitions help share that and bring people together.”

They received nearly 100 submissions across various media and subjects; more than 50 are featured in the reprise exhibit, hosted by the Health Sciences Library System. The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular library hours. Interested parties can also contact the artists for more information about each piece (including purchasing inquiries) if so desired.

  • From left are Esra Bozkurt, researcher in the Department of Structural Biology, and Jonathan Franks, electron microscopy lab manager in the Center for Biologic Imaging. "We think this exhibition shows that scientific research can correlate with artistic mindsets," Franks said. (Tom Altany/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Among paintings on display at the “Scientists as Artists 2018 Reprise” exhibit are oil and acrylic-on-canvas works as well as watercolors and pieces that use alcohol to alter paint behavior. (Tom Altany/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Photography featuring architecture, New York City and wildlife is also included in the “Scientists as Artists Reprise 2018” exhibit. (Tom Altany/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Three acrylic-on-canvas paintings capture vibrant colors and contrasts. They are are intended to be viewed in person, as the artworks’ lighting and placement have been optimized for best viewing in person at the exhibit. (Tom Altany/University of Pittsburgh)
  • In addition to paintings on canvas, work in the “Scientists as Artists Reprise 2018” exhibit includes mixed media on plexiglass, ceramic and wood sculptures. (Tom Altany/University of Pittsburgh)
  • The artistic side of scientific research has been part of Pitt’s annual science and technology events for several years, but this year Esra Bozkurt suggested expanding the feature to include Pitt scientists, faculty and students, resulting in “Scientists as Artists 2018 Reprise” at Pitt’s Science 2018. (Tom Altany/University of Pittsburgh)