FAC Science

“Coastal Surface Chemistry” by Heather Stivison

Swirling images of water in inks, paint and photos greet visitors to the Falmouth Art Center this month for the show, “Beneath The Surface,” a collaboration between regional artists and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists.

The show is on view at the Falmouth Art Center until May 30.

The collaboration between art and science, called “Synergy,” started almost 10 years ago through a conversation between an artist and a WHOI scientist. The artist was a member of Art League of Rhode Island and drafted other members of that group to get involved. The first collaboration resulted in art shows at the Museum of Science in Boston and the New Bedford Museum of Art back in 2013.

“For all their apparent differences, artists and scientists share a fundamental goal: to explore the edges of human knowledge and experience,” said Art League of Rhode Island board member Ellen Matesanz, who helped organize the exhibit.

The goal of the continuing collaboration is to explore and uncover parallel experiences and synergy between the arts and sciences, and to explore the power of the human mind and imagination to visualize life below the ocean surface.

WHOI scientist Larry Pratt, one of the leaders of the group, has been part of Synergy from the start. As a senior scientist in physical oceanography on the WHOI faculty, his studies concern ocean circulation.

Dr. Pratt’s research focus is on the physics of ocean circulation and turbulence, including motions that occur near the ocean bottom. He is paired with artist Ellen Biegert, whose work on display represents the wavy calm created by water masses flowing beneath the surface and above the rough bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Ms. Biegert’s piece is just a small part of what the finished work will be and is a study of line weights, textures and patterns that express the vast, calm and slow movement of the ocean.

The other WHOI scientists involved are Jennifer Kenyon, Suzanna Clark, Svenja Ryan, Caroline Ummenhofer, Chrissy Hermandez, Sujata Murthy, Noah Paul Germolus, Max Jahns and Nina Whitney.

In addition to Ms. Biegert, the artists are Claire Marschak, Deb Ehrens, Hong Xu, Heather Stivison, Kathy Hodge, Keith Prue, Laurie Kaplowitz, Marcy Cohen and Saberah Malik.

The Falmouth Art Center, at 137 Gifford Street, is free and open to the public Monday to Friday, from 9 AM to 4 PM; Saturday, from 10 AM to 2 PM; and Sunday, from 1 to 4 PM.

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