“Design and Science” art exhibition to debut at Eastern Michigan University on Sept. 11

Show will examine the intersection between these two seemingly disparate realms

Artwork from Design & Science exhibit
"Our Protected Forest" sculpture by Willow Sharp. Media: paper, bark, glue

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University will open a special exhibition Sept. 11 that shows the intersection between science and design. The show will reveal relationships between these seemingly disparate disciplines, and show the similarities between the processes that produce knowledge through design and through scientific processes.  

The show, hosted by the EMU School of Art & Design, runs from September 11 through October 17, 2019 in the University Gallery in the Student Center. The exhibition will travel to the Esther Klein Gallery at The Science Center in Philadelphia in February, 2020. 

The exhibition opening will be held in the gallery from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11. A roundtable discussion will be held that night from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. in Ballroom A of the Student Center.

The exhibition, entitled “Design and Science,” will examine projects that merge design and science through biodesign. It will present “pictures” of data about natural systems, and other projects that connect design and science through 2-D and 3-D thinking models. 

“In biodesign, living organisms are incorporated into design projects; biological systems may also be configured as a constituent of design,” said Leslie Atzmon, an EMU professor of graphic design and design history who is curator of the exhibition. “Data from nature is often a source for design. Data manifestation is scientific data manifested as objects and environments.  Finally, visual ‘thinking’ models are not just an aid to scientific data, they are designs that can reveal natural or physical processes.”

Along with the exhibition, EMU will host a round-table discussion with exhibition participants Audrey Speyer, Diana Nicholas, and Jason Ferguson, to be led by University of Michigan Stamps School of Art and Design professor Deepa Butoliya and EMU biology professor Brian Connolly.

Atzmon is a designer, design historian, and design critic. She also co-curated Open Book: An International Survey of Experimental Books, and was awarded an NEA grant to run experimental book workshops and produce “The Open Book Project” book with EMU colleague Ryan Molloy.

She did a Fulbright fellowship in London in 2016 at Central Saint Martins on the topic of Darwin and design thinking. Atzmon and Molloy were also awarded a Sappi “Ideas that Matter Grant (2017)” — focusing on supporting design for non-profits – to rebrand Ypsilanti’s Riverside Arts Center as a community arts hub.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

September 03, 2019

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Media Contact:
Geoff Larcom