Abstract Detail

Education and Outreach

Clement, Wendy [1], Ault, Chris [2], Wright, Haley [3], King, Robert J [4], Welch, Shania [4], Bergen, Anna T [4], Kakumanu, Siya [5], Shah, Ria B. [6], Zhang, Jingbo [7], Howarth, Dianella [8], Srivastav, Mansa [9], Donoghue, Michael [10].

Meaningful Beauty: A collaborative, cross-disciplinary art exhibition that explores plant diversity and provides science communication opportunities for undergraduates.

Though plants have long been appreciated for their beauty, there is an ever-increasing need for promoting a greater understanding of plant diversity and the importance of plants in our environment. Here, plant biologists and interactive multimedia specialists collaborated to design an art exhibition to (1) promote awareness of plant diversity and evolution, (2) communicate current research in the field of plant systematics and evolution-development, and (3) provide opportunities to train biology, art, and design undergraduate students in science communication. As a result of a year-long collaboration among the departments of Biology and Design and Creative Technology at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) and in consultation with collaborators at Yale University and St. John’s University, we developed an interactive art exhibition, Meaningful Beauty: The Vibrant Vocabulary of Honeysuckles. The exhibition was on display in the TCNJ art gallery during the Spring 2022 semester and will move to the art gallery at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in the spring of 2022. By focusing on a single group of plants, the honeysuckles, we challenged visitors to consider the meaning of “honeysuckle” by exploring the drastic differences that can exist among a group of closely related plant species and how these different forms have, or have not, taken shape throughout evolutionary history. Ranging from botanical illustration to animated characters inspired by species of honeysuckles, the exhibition offered a number of lenses through which to observe plants. The exhibit employed augmented reality (AR) to enrich the connection between the visitor and the exhibition; the use of AR created opportunities for the visitor to self-navigate and personalize how they engaged with the art in the exhibition, providing any number of unique experiences. For instance, visitors had the opportunity to build their own virtual honeysuckle by selecting features such as flower size and color which then culminated in viewing their honeysuckle in a ‘mixed reality garden’ in the exhibition. During the development of the exhibition, nearly 50 undergraduate students, including biology majors and art and design majors, engaged in the conceptualization, development, design, and implementation of the exhibition providing a great number of opportunities for training in science communication. Student involvement took the form of participation in a course, summer research, independent research, course learning assistant, tour guide, and panel member. Here we describe developing the exhibition, cultivating a collaboration between art and science, and creating science communication training opportunities for the next generation of scientists, artists, and designers.

1 - The College Of New Jersey, Biology, 2000 Pennington Road, Department Of Biology, Ewing, NJ, 08628, United States
2 - The College of New Jersey, Design and Creative Technology, 2000 Pennington Rd, Ewing, New Jersey, 08618-1104, United States
3 - The College of New Jersey, Design and Creative Technology, 2000 Pennington Rd, Ewing, New Jersey, 08628, United States
4 - The College of New Jersey, Biology Department, 2000 Pennington Rd, Ewing, New Jersey, 08628, United States
5 - The College of New Jersey, Department of Biology, 2000 Pennington Rd, Ewing, New Jersey, 08618, United States
6 - The College of New Jersey, Department of Biology, 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing, New Jersey, 08628, United States
7 - St. John's University, Department of Biological Sciences, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, NY, 11439, USA
8 - St. John's University, Department Of Biological Sciences, St. Albert Hall Rm 257, 8000 Utopia Pkwy, Jamiaca, NY, 11439, United States
9 - Yale University, Ecology And Evolutionary Biology, 21 Sachem Street, Room 364 New Haven, CT 06511, Environmental Science Center, Room Number 356, New Haven, CT, 06511, United States
10 - Yale University, Department Of Ecology And Evolutionary Biology, 21 Sachem St., New Haven, CT, 06511, United States

art exhibition
Undergraduate Research
plant diversity
Science communication
outreach training

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: EO2012
Abstract ID:905
Candidate for Awards:None

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