Looking through a microscope has sparked the imaginations of young artists in Albany this summer through a special program taught by two of SUNY Schenectady’s faculty members. The children’s artistic inspiration? Slides of their own cheek cells, onion cells, leaves, and single celled organisms they are viewing through microscopes.
Stephen Tyson, MFA, Adjunct Faculty Member who teaches Studio Art courses through the Division of Liberal Arts, and Dr. Syeda Munaim, Professor in the Division of Math, Science, Technology, and Health, have connected art and science in a creative way, teaming up for the first time to lead “Art Through The Microscope,” a summer youth art workshop for kids ages 7 to 12. Students conduct their own experiments as scientists would and then create preliminary drawings and refined drawings, works of art with creative interpretations of the facts before them. The workshop is sponsored by Black Dimensions in Art, Inc. (BDA) and takes place this month at Trinity Alliance in Albany.
Tyson, who is on the Board of Directors for BDA, said that pairing up with Dr. Munaim to offer kids this experience has been an excellent experiment in and of itself.
“Art Through The Microscope has been a great experience, watching children’s eyes light up when, for example, they’re viewing cells and translating that observation onto paper with various drawing media,” Tyson said
During the workshop, the students are making microscopic slides and viewing prepared slides of organs including the skin, bone, and the trachea, as well as preserved organisms, and also extracting DNA from live cells and viewing it with the naked eye through a microscope. They are then translating all that they see into works of art.
Dr. Munaim has had the opportunity to watch the young students blossom as scientists and as artists. “The kids are the real winners here because we planned a dynamic 'science in art' hands-on project for them,” she said. “We’ve said, ‘be a real scientist, do your own experiments, and also be a creative artist at the end.’”
An exhibit of the children's drawings from this science-art experience will be forthcoming.