My name is Nadia Kafil and I am a junior studying biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. When creating art, I often use acrylic paint or create my pieces digitally using a program called Procreate. This summer, I had the opportunity to work with the Jeff Gross lab at UT Austin where they are researching retinal regeneration. His lab wanted the artwork to decorate their lab space while also representing the research they were doing. Dr. Gross explained to me that he moved into a new lab space with high ceilings and completely bare walls. He wanted art that could cover up the walls to make the space more inviting for his lab members. I began the artistic process by brainstorming ideas. I looked through his lab’s research papers and website for inspiration and sketched out various designs. After consulting with him on the designs he liked, I created drafts on Procreate while asking for his suggestions along the way. After a lot of development, I was eventually able to turn the drafts into a final product.
Working on the hub projects has been a really rewarding experience. I was able to work together with other talented artists at UT Austin to help bring an organization focused on promoting visual science communication within UT Austin itself. We are modeling this organization after Vanderbilt’s own Artist-in-Residence program. We plan on pairing up student artists with labs across campus while also holding workshops and social events for artists so they can network and become better science illustrators. So far, we have created a proposal detailing how the organization will work and designed a flyer to help promote our org. We are currently gathering labs and student artists interested in participating. Through this organization, we hope to cultivate a community at UT Austin that bridges the gap between science and art!