Scientific art exhibit opens April 2 at Idaho State University’s Library

POCATELLO — A seldom-seen side of Idaho science will be on display at the Idaho State University Oboler Library.

The Art of Science exhibit highlights how scientific research that is advancing humankind can also be beautiful. The exhibit runs from April 2 until June 29.

In 2015, Idaho National Laboratory launched a pilot program to find artistic research imagery hiding in the recesses of scientists’ datasets. The lab hired Joseph Pehrson, an Idaho artist and recent Idaho State University art program graduate, as a summer intern to search the lab high and low for examples of scientific data that also qualifies as art.

He found a wealth of mostly microscopic imagery that spans INL research missions. From nuclear fuel to battery materials to algae, the collection offers a glimpse of INL’s scientific breadth. The exhibit presents a novel way for people to engage with the lab, learn about its work and meet some of its scientists.

“This collection examines the intersection of art and science viewed through the literal lens of microscopy,” said Pehrson. “Photographs of actual materials appear abstract when viewed at a small enough scale.”

Pehrson also assisted with a related effort underway during the 2015-2016 academic year at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, a research and education consortium among Idaho State University (ISU), INL, Boise State University, University of Idaho and University of Wyoming.

The CAES ARTernative Energy Contest encouraged employees, students and professors at all five institutions to submit art that could create greater awareness and inspire nontraditional interdisciplinary collaborations in energy research.

The entire Art of Science collection is displayed here: https://artsci.inl.gov/.

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