When the periodic table intersected with the Spring 2019 Art Crawl, beautiful things happened.
Twenty-eight students submitted to the section for art inspired by the periodic table or chemical elements. In addition to paintings and photographs, the entries included poetry, drawings, sculptures, and digital art pieces.
The diverse creative expressions yielded mind-opening and fresh perspectives of the periodic table. The College of Sciences thanks all participants, who took the time to express artistically their reflections on the periodic table.
Top honors went to three College of Engineering students.
The first-place winner is Ruthvik Chandrasekaran, a third-year Ph.D. student in aerospace engineering, working with Dimitri Mavris and Dewey Hodges, professors in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering. Chandrasekaran studies jet engine technology disruptors and helicopter rotor blade dynamics.
Chandrasekaran’s entry – “Recharging” – is a photograph of a plasma globe filled with noble gases, such as neon and argon. When the gases ionize because of the high-voltage electrode at the center of the globe, they form beautiful streaks of light, known as plasma filaments, inside the globe.
“Noble gases are usually inert, but under certain extreme conditions they interact with their surroundings to form something vibrant and magnificent,” Chandrasekaran says. “Just like us, noble gases also need the right atmosphere to shine.”
Second place goes to Anna Starr for “The First Element.” Hydrogen is the first element; Starr’s painting of hydrogen’s single proton and lone electron is both riveting and mesmerizing. From afar, the solid black circles beckon. Up close, the lines radiating from the pitch dark objects pulsate.
A second-year major in industrial and systems engineering, Starr says she’s always looking for opportunities to create art. About “The First Element,” she says: “I wanted to convey the opposing energies of the two particles in a hydrogen atom, with the large negative space representing the positively charged proton and the smaller circle representing the negatively charged electron. I believe the abstract elements of the lines helps capture the mystery of the atom.”
Nishalini Shanmugan took third place with her entry, “Winter Frost.” Using the eerie winter scene, Shanmugan says she wanted to demonstrate with her photograph “how the periodic table coexists with nature and the essence of life.”
Shanmugan is a first-year major in electrical engineering, with a minor in Spanish. Her photograph projects the beauty of the periodic table through its elements, and the molecules they form, coexisting in nature and in different states, such as ice, water, and water vapor. “What better way to do that than with an image of a cold, wintry day?”