Monday, December 11, 2017

Art and Science: In Practice

Image result for art supplies

Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Robert Wilson had a thought when he was putting together what would become the U. S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.  Hire an artist.

I suspect Wilson knew that the physics--cutting edge particle physics--would be inspiring for the scientists but he had another intention, too. He wanted the place to be inspiring. All of it. From the grounds, the paints used, the sculptures which grace its grounds, the annual report, doorway designs, typography, posters, and even the emergency preparedness kits. Wilson had a deep conviction about the link between art and science.

The 11th employee Wilson hired was Angela Lahs Gonzales with whom he had worked when he was at Cornell University. Angela Gonzales remained at Fermi three decades (1967 - 1998) and her contributions can be seen and found everywhere.

In an essay about Angela Gonzales in Symmetry, Lauren Biron notes a few of Ganzales's contributions. She "created the lab’s logo, a union of dipole and quadrupole magnets used in accelerators to guide and focus the particle beam. She chose a bold color scheme, with vibrant blues, oranges and reds that would coat Fermilab buildings. She designed covers for scientific publications and posters for lab events and lectures."

To give you an idea of Gonzales's standing and influence, Biron writes that "her word on artistic choices was final. Employees were known to get a talking to if they painted something without consulting Angela."

Gonzales worked primarily in pen and ink and you will find examples in Biron's essay  In addition, Biron provides a link which I repeat here to an exhibition of Gonzales's work on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of FermiLab.

I hope you take a look. 

Acknowledgement: Lauren Biron

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