Seen around SLAC: Taking SLAC to Art

June 3, 2011

Hanging in a user lounge at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource is a brilliantly-realized painting in acrylics of the Klystron Gallery at sunset, overlaid with a giant sun-like detector and the ghostly outline of a SLAC scientist. It's not only a lovely painting, it's also a beautiful reminder of the way science can inform art, and, in turn, art can capture science.

The painting is a gift from the artist, Carey Phelps. A recent (as in last week) graduate from the Castilleja School in Palo Alto, Phelps painted the piece after seeing two SLAC scientists discuss the intersections of art and physics at her Introduction to the Arts class. Linac Coherent Light Source Deputy Directory Uwe Bergmann spoke about uncovering the ancient writings of Archimedes at SSRL, while SSRL Staff Scientist Apurva Mehta explained how the science of today can be used to help understand and preserve the art of the past, from better understanding the origins and properties of unusual pigments to explaining the methods used to produce specific finishes on pottery.

"The scientists from SLAC talked about science and art," Phelps said. "I wanted to make the connection between art and science."