Introduce yourself, your process for creating art, and any tools that you use to generate art
Hi! My name is Marissa Sirois, I am a junior at William & Mary majoring in biology. While I am not yet certain what my degree will lead me to, I just know that I love science and I love art, and have been doing both for as long as I can remember. This summer I worked with the Alexander Lab to create cover art for an upcoming paper about immune responses in the skin and their effect on hypertension.
AiR was an opportunity to connect my interests in art and science in a way I never imagined before joining the program. It was a unique challenge to create cover art that was both concrete enough to make its connection to the research paper understood and abstract enough to belong on the cover of a journal. To accomplish such a feat, I first learned as much about the Alexander Lab research as I could, making use of the various resources they sent me. Then I sketched a few thumbnails before making rough drafts of my favorites utilizing Google images as reference photos. After receiving feedback from the lab, I created the final piece using colored pencils and ink.
This summer was a learning experience for me both artistically and scientifically. I know much more about science communication now that I have had the opportunity to participate in this program. No matter where my career takes me, I can use these skills to do the ever-important task of communicating scientific information to the public.
What has it been like working on the hub projects?
A new facet of the AiR program I got to take part in this year was the introduction of hubs, small groups of students within the program that share an institution or region and work together to reach out to their communities and introduce them to art-science. In my case, I worked with other students from William & Mary.
Originally the ten students participating in this program from William & Mary were split into two groups, which brainstormed outreach ideas and worked separately to see them come to fruition. Then it came to our attention that our projects fit together pretty well so the two groups became one ultimate William & Mary hub.
Together we are creating a virtual gallery showcasing the art we created as part of this program, with plans to accept submissions of other scientific art from the William & Mary community to be added to the gallery in the coming months and hopefully years. Then, to raise awareness of this gallery and art-science, we have designed stickers promoting both the gallery itself and various science departments across the college.
While there have been challenges logistically as we've worked on our hub project, it's coming together, and I'm excited to see the difference we're making connecting science and art at William & Mary. As a bonus, I've met nine other like-minded students whom I had previously had only seen each other in passing. We have plans to get together once the school year starts and are working on founding a club that will provide a space for other W&M students to join us in our art-science endeavors!