When I first learned about the Bridge program, I was very intrigued and interested. The idea that a scientist and artist have a collective experience was inspiring. I am a scientist (Chemist) that loves and appreciates art, however due to various reasons I have not been able to dedicate time to nurture this interest. I have always believed that artist and scientist have a lot of common and when I began I was very excited for this opportunity. Jo Yarrington has been an amazing partner; her insight has been invaluable, I have learned a lot about how she sees the world which has enlighten me in numerous ways. One of the most valuable lesson learned was: step back and observe, no thought, just contemplate. One of my main topics of interest as a researcher is tea and coincidently Jo has used tea as an inspiration for some of her art creations.
Very early on, we dive in to explore tea from two very different perspectives, thanks to Jo’s creative insight, I discovered many new things about tea that I was unaware of. For example, I learned that in order to prepare some kinds of tea, yeast is used in the process. Also I learned that some yeast and bacteria can grow in tea, which is very intriguing mostly because tea is known to have antibacterial properties. In the future I would like to explore which types of yeast and bacteria are likely to live in dry tea samples. This partnership also inspired me to change my organic chemistry classes to involve an art project. In one class the students will prepare cyanotypes, and in another class the students will design an Art in Chemistry mobile exhibit.
This collaboration has helped me to find time to nurture my interest in art, specifically watercolor. The partnership between Jo and me is still ongoing; one of our future projects includes a Sci-Art exhibition at Kettering University.
I have had a wonderful time being part of the Bridge program. In short, this experience has given me invaluable knowledge and has open many new exiting opportunities that I will pursue in the future. I would like to thank Julia Buntaine Hoel, Kate Schwarting from the SciArt center, as well as Dean Laura Vosejpka for all of their support and help during this residence.
Although the Bridge Virtual Residency was challenging at times due to other residencies and international travel for research on concurrent projects during my sabbatical, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be part of the 2018 SciArt Bridge teams. In a mutually supportive and engaging collaboration with Montseurrat Rabago-Smith, our conversations and blog entries helped to expand my perspective on how art and science can exist in a dynamic framework, how they each employ analytical thinking, intense observation, and structured inquiry. Both disciplines involve processes that balance creative play and exploration with a focused purpose.
I am excited to see how our work together involving materials such as tea, wax, molds, paper and alternative photographic methods such as Cyanotypes and microscope-based imagery will evolve as we continue to investigate a shared concern with environmental issues and challenges.
From late February through September 2019, we have planned a series of interactions - multiple workshops and extended dialogues with other colleagues at our perspective universities and an exhibition of our collective results. This exhibition, titled The Bridge: Collaborative Work by Montseurrat Rabago-Smith and Jo Yarrington, opens this April at Kettering University Humanities Art Center and Gallery.
The Bridge Virtual Residency program has been a timely gift, offering an opportunity to have a deep and meaningful dialogue across disciplines that will be affecting my teaching when I return to the university in the Fall of 2019. Although I have used a lab-like approach for projects and assignments, I plan on employing more interdisciplinary, experimental and process-based methods to aid in developing a conceptually strong hypothesis as students move toward the final completion of their artwork. Students will be asked to consider visual language across disciplines to articulate and evoke a more inclusive meaning.
I would like to thank Julia Buntaine Hoel, Kate Schwarting from the SciArt center, as well as Dr. Richard Greenwald, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University, for all of their support and help during this Residency.
Project plan for proposed University exchange, exhibition, lectures and interdisciplinary workshops
Develop collective exhibition
Montse visiting Fairfield University
Opening Reception at Kettering University Humanities Art Center and Gallery
Jo visiting Kettering University