EUREKA! The Moment When Art and Science Collide

Ben Hirschenfang's picture

A rocket scientist walks into an art gallery to review an opening…. 

This may sound like the start of a joke, but it’s a true story. Brad Biggs, founder and owner of Art for All Spaces asked this former Aerospace Engineer to write a review of the March 18, 2016 opening at CityArts Factory at 29 S Orange Ave, in downtown Orlando --  from a scientist’s perspective. The show continues through April 9th, with gallery hours M to F from 11 am to 6 pm. 

Never having written an art review, my logical thought process, ala Mr. Spock, was to collect data (smartphone photos of the art) in a methodical process and question the available artists to understand how their work connects to the scientific world. A write-up adjacent to each artist’s works is available that explains the art and process when a human is unavailable, allowing visitors to fully understand the artist’s interpretations.

In science, there are no opinions……just facts.  In Art as in politics, facts are irrelevant, often ignored and everyone has an opinion. My opinion is that this “collision” of art and science provides a remarkable opportunity for those of us who are not artists to appreciate these works with their accompanying detailed explanations –  like having the Cliff Notes for subjects that were not in our major field of study, while I’m also sure those who purely appreciate the Arts can lose themselves in each of the works, sans written explanations. 

The artists ranged from an internationally recognized photographer, Josh Garrick; to sixteen Lake Highland Preparatory School artists… of whom, Sana Moon, pictured below with Brad Biggs, aspires to go into the Sciences!

Brad Biggs and Sana Moon. From EUREKA! The Moment When Art and Science Collide

Brad Biggs and Sana Moon

Josh Garrick’s collection consists of black and white digital images of Greek antiquities that are laser etched onto an aluminum substrate, which is unto itself an example of art and science, not colliding, but cooperating. His works below, The First Hospital, The First Doctor – Hippocrates, and the First Medicine, all reflect back on how science and medicine, even in ancient times, were revered and honored in sculptures which have survived through the centuries. 

Josh Garrick - First Hospital. From EUREKA! The Moment When Art and Science Collide

First Hospital, Josh Garrick

Josh Garrick - First Doctor, First Medicine. From EUREKA! The Moment When Art and Science Collide

First Doctor (left), First Medicine (right), Josh Garrick


In some cases, the art was predominantly science, such as Brian Barnett’s The Tree of Life.  He created a “tree from found objects to represent carbon as a base element in all forms of life.” What struck me were the pre-digital age electron microscope slides that NASA used to analyze the protective carbon fibers used to protect space capsules from extremely high temperatures when re-entering the atmosphere. These slides of protective carbon coverings hanging from an umbrella that was stripped of its protective covering presented a certain irony to this engineer. 

The Tree of Life, Brian Barnett. From EUREKA! The Moment When Art and Science Collide

The Tree of Life, Brian Barnett

In other cases, the science was in the process of creating the art. Marsha DeBroske’s sculptures, below, appear ancient due to the chemical process of the molding compound that cracks as it dries.

sculptures, Marsha DeBroske. From EUREKA! The Moment When Art and Science Collide


Richard Munster’s art, below, pays homage to the past by creating works that look like natural geological remnants to this scientist, but appear to be made of ceramic material.

sculpture by Richard Munster. From EUREKA! The Moment When Art and Science Collide

Bonnie Sprung must have been a chemist in a former life. This artist has created a large work, below, processing Styrofoam into an array of colors and textures using paint with specific solvents to react with the foam along with heat to expand the areas in the foam to emphasize texture. Stepping back from the work, I see trees and colors that look like the stage background of Into the Woods.

below, by Bonnie Sprung. From EUREKA! The Moment When Art and Science Collide

Here is where the fun begins. Go to the gallery and see if you can spell out the words that these “trees” portray in Ms. Sprung’s work. Then you will surely have that special reaction associated with “the moment when art and science collide”.



Guest columnist Ben Hirschenfang had a 35-year career in the aerospace industry, predominantly with Lockheed Martin Corporation, including his most recent position as Deputy Director of the JASSM cruise missile program for the United States Air Force.  A graduate of City College of the City University of New York, Ben holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering (and minor in Art). He holds a number of professional citations and was awarded numerous Employee Excellence Awards while at Lockheed Martin Corporation.