Virtual STEM Art and Film Festival Showcased Science–Art Collaborations

February 18, 2021

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The 2020 STEM Art and Film Festival, held virtually on November 8, celebrated the visual and performing arts as tools that help teach the public about science, technology, engineering, and math. Featuring over 40 works of art and over 20 films, the public festival was the final event of the virtual 2020 Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference held by Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society.

Juniper Harrower, founder and director of SymbioArtlab, walked away with the festival’s top two honors: Best Artwork and Best Film. Harrower ’s installation, The Joshua Tree Soil series, was inspired by scientific findings from her ecological research. To create her art, Harrower integrates elements of her research such as Joshua tree fibers, seed oil, and the spines of trees as paint brushes. Data is also a key component in Harrower’s work—she uses intricate algorithms from her research to establish all the mechanisms of her artwork. Harrower’s film, A Joshua Tree Love Story, is a stop-motion short film that follows a female scientist as she investigates the effects of climate change on the ecology of Joshua trees and their life cycle.

The festival featured artwork and films presented by winners of #SciCommMake, a new competition hosted by Sigma Xi and Science Talk. The program forms collaborations between scientists and artists to create projects that communicate evidence-based scientific research findings to the public.

The agenda also included a panel discussion with the creators of the As Above As Below art exhibit. This collection features six collaborative multimedia exhibits created by teams of artists, astrophysicists, and neuroscientists. This panel highlighted two of the exhibits and discussed different aspects of each collaboration.

In addition to the special events, attendees of the virtual STEM Art and Film Festival enjoyed screenings of short films, documentaries, and animations. Judges selected the following artwork and films to receive the 2020 awards.

Sigma Xi thanks the following judges for viewing and evaluating each film and artwork submission.

Film Judges

Clare Gibson Filmmaker Allegorical Alchemy

Kirsten (Kiki) Sanford Principal Broader Impacts Productions, LLC

Myrna Jacobson Meyers Assistant Research Professor of Biological Sciences University of Southern California

Art Judges

Fenella Saunders Director of Science Communications and Publications Editor-in-Chief of American Scientist Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society

Esther Mallouh Art Liaison Keen on Art

David Goodsell Professor of Computational Biology The Scripps Research Institute Research Professor RCSB Protein Data Bank

Kimberly Moss Associate Professor of Art and Visual Culture Iowa State University

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety