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Thoughts from our student-artist: Chloe Kim

How do you communicate with scientists to define or communicate their visual communication needs/goals?

This summer, I had the opportunity to collaborate with the Fitzgerald lab at UMass Chan Medical School to create science-based artwork, specifically cover art. I started with a virtual meeting with Dr. Fitzgerald to discuss the program's expectations of both me, the artist, and her, the lab. This meeting laid down the foundation for our communication and project. She then connected me with Mingqi Dong, a graduate student in her lab, so I could learn more about the specifics of his research project. In a virtual meeting, Mingqi went through one of his lab presentations that discussed the general overview of his project and findings thus far. This gave me a grasp of what he expected of the artwork, but the most helpful thing was when he showed me examples of cover art for the science in his field. From that point, I created three drafts of different ideas and asked Dr. Fitzgerald and Mingqi to choose what they liked best or to share their suggestions. Once I had a general idea of what the cover art should be, I worked on modifying and finalizing the idea whilst asking the lab for their thoughts throughout the process. I believe that continuous communication throughout the art-making process is the best way to get on the same page as the lab and make sure that I communicate their expectations.

Tell us about your experience in the AiR program so far.

I have always wanted to participate in the AiR program. When I applied to Vanderbilt University, I talked about my passion and desire to combine art and science. However, there were not many opportunities to utilize this tool in high school, so I wrote about the uniqueness of the AiR program and how it would allow me to explore this distinct relationship. Thus, I was more than thrilled to have the opportunity to partake in the program this summer. I gained a plethora of valuable knowledge and skills through the weekly program meetings, seminars, and HUB meetings.

By collaborating with the Fitzgerald lab and the Vanderbilt Hub, I learned the importance of communication in art. Before this experience, art was mostly a solitary process. However, the collaboration made me realize that working with others to create art for the same purpose allows for powerful results that cannot be obtained by working alone. For example, the Vanderbilt Hub’s project is to create a virtual workshop to showcase our artwork and teach students how to create their own science-based artworks, and this project would not have been possible without the help of Dr. Oliver and the members of the Hub. Overall, the program has been an amazing experience, and I cannot wait to delve deeper into the collaboration of art and science.

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