It was cold and rainy on Saturday night, but that didn’t prevent a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd from gathering at the Greater Reston Arts Center in Virginia to celebrate a remarkable and rare sculptural installation in which chemistry and art merge. The installation depicts the Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements with reverence. And it invites those who experience the art to find a reverent connection to an icon of science that all too often becomes associated only with bad grades and incomprehensible classes. C&EN profiled the artist, Rebecca Kamen, and the show in the October 5 issue, but the reception for the installation, on October 17, demonstrated how effective and unique an artistic approach can be to communicating science, even the science of chemistry. Attendees walked among the elemental “flowers,” arranged in the spiral geometry associated with the Fibonacci Series, discussed the meaning of elements, listened to Kamen recount how the work came to her, and experienced—if only for a moment—chemistry’s pantry of elements like they never had before. The installation, Divining Nature: an elemental garden, remains up through November 17, but is likely to find further life in other venues and contexts as the International Year of Chemistry–2011 approaches.
Images: Ivan Amato (C&EN)