LSU art students’ work is on display at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum (LASM) Iridescence exhibition, on view through July 2022.
The exhibition celebrates iridescence, the natural phenomenon of certain surfaces that appear to gradually change color as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes. The exhibition seeks to showcase both the natural phenomenon and the artistic applications of iridescence. Students in graphic design instructor Meghan Saas’ ART 2552 class studied how iridescence occurs, and drew inspiration from it to create a series pieces that, together, span the visible color spectrum. The students’ work is included in the exhibition now on view at the LASM in downtown Baton Rouge!
“Iridescence is found throughout the natural world, on butterfly wings, fish scales, bird features, and also in man-made materials such as paint, fabric, and plastic. A captivating sight, iridescence is still being studied by scientists today who seek to further understand the interaction between light, movement, and microscopic structures that is responsible for iridescence. Similarly, artists are exploring iridescence to discover new ways to incorporate the rainbow-like phenomenon into their work,” according to the LASM.
Artists from all over the world submitted works to the juried competition, inspired or created using iridescent materials. Juror Bradley Sumrall, Curator of the Collection for the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, curated Iridescence: Juried Competition from over 300 works of art, thoughtfully considering the materials, influences, and artistic merit of each submission.
Saas worked with Dr. Nathan Lord, professor entomology, and graduate student Sierra Weir, whose research on Emerald Ash Borers (“Jewel Beetles”) is featured in the Iridescence exhibition, to better understand the science behind iridescence in nature.
“Nature does have this profound beauty,” Lord said. The lab researchers see the exhibition as an opportunity to raise awareness of this convergence of the arts and sciences, and help people see the world through a new lens. Read more.
The art/graphic design students worked to create pieces that go beyond aesthetic purposes, and explore the color spectrum. “I encouraged them to experiment to get interesting and unexpected results, and then we refined from there to get a good balance of saturation and value, contrast, etc. Then they had to consider how to ensure all six pieces looked like a cohesive set—there was a lot to consider!” Saas said.
“The students took the assignment very seriously, and shared info with one another on the best printers in town for getting good vivid colors, and they were SO careful with mounting perfectly [for the museum.] Several said they’d really gained confidence in Photoshop from the project, and it was so great hearing them really dig in and analyze small details of color application during critique.”
For the graphic design students, the artistic process was collaborative experience. “They cheered each other on a lot along the way and they’re all so excited to bring their family and friends to see their work up on the wall at a museum! I’m just goofy proud of them—they worked really hard and it paid off,” Saas said.
“My experience working on the Iridescence project was both new and exciting,” said Ilai Wright, a junior majoring in studio art with a concentration in graphic design. “The process gave me a new perspective on how I viewed colors and color pairings in nature as well.”
“This was my first time having my art as part of a public exhibit in a museum!” Wright said. “I feel fortunate and grateful to have taken this class this semester because it is the first time the ART 2552 class has done something like this. I am also honored to have my work along with my classmates’ work on display for so many people to see!”
Iridescence features works from a variety of LSU research fields. In addition to images of insects provided by Lord, the exhibition also features a custom built, period specific, Victorian dress adorned with Jewel Beetle wings by Casey Stannard, associate professor of human ecology in the Department of Textiles, Apparel and Merchandising.