A collaboration between Marquette University and Milwaukee High School of the Arts began earlier this year when a heart illustration by a local high school student received international attention in a journal featuring Marquette research. The response was overwhelmingly positive so the collaboration has expanded with 12 new AP art students who displayed their artwork earlier this month with an exhibit in Marquette’s Todd Wehr Chemistry Building.
There was a desire to add some artistic flair to the research and to expose high school students to the fields of graphic design and scientific illustration, both of which are career tracks in art that most students know little of, and formed the foundation for this mutually beneficial relationship.
Each student worked directly with a Marquette researcher to create his or her unique pieces of art.
Htet Oo Wa, senior at MHSA, said his piece was largely inspired by the transfer of light.
“My favorite part of this was learning things I never knew before in a way that wasn’t from my teachers or in a notebook,” Htet Oo Wa said. “I learned things about science from communicating with the researchers and through my classmates’ artwork.”
Carrie Hoelzer, MHSA art teacher, said the benefits of using student work are widespread.
“As artists, they may really enjoy the abstract forms and patterns they encounter, and develop more of an interest in how something works,” Hoelzer said.
Dr. Qadir Timerghazin, associate professor of chemistry, previously collaborated with Caroline Kenwood, MHSA senior, on an illustration that made the front cover of an international academic journal.
“This collaboration is really a win-win situation because the researchers could really use some help with the art and it is a great opportunity for young artists,” Timerghazin said.
“The focus was not only on the scientific concepts; it was more on creating a cool piece of art and I really liked that part,” said Asgard whose piece of art was related to Alzheimer’s disease and the brain.
Timerghazin continues to say that chemistry is a very visual science and therefore “most concepts are best represented graphically.”
Every piece of artwork at the exhibit successfully and visually told a scientific story.