Live Event: Museum Nights with the UF College of Engineering at the Harn

IMG_1362Notes played from a saxophone fill the hallways of a building that is typically so silent footsteps and coughs from the next room can be heard.

Tonight, it’s almost a completely different place from what you would normally experience. Music and voices are coming from every direction, and there is a chance to see people doing the tango in the promenade just steps away from cheese and crackers.

It would be surprising to hear the voice of someone who is standing six inches away. Only when you step away from the “stages” and into the galleries can you hear your own thoughts on the piece of art in front of you.

The Harn Museum of Art collaborated with the University of Florida College of Engineering to show the intersections and connections between art and engineering for Museum Nights on Thursday, Oct. 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. Visitors were able to view works of art and performances by faculty and students of the college along with the pieces on display at the Harn.

In addition to this, there were tours and on-going art making activities for adults and children located around the museum. Museum Nights take place once a month, where the museum opens in the evening and allow visitors to see art in different ways, according to the Harn’s website.

Tables featuring the art by those in the college of engineering were lined along the walls of the hallways leading to the galleries. Artists presented their work and were nearby to answer questions from observers.

The art displayed ranged from paintings and photography to handcrafted pens and 3-D printed structures.

Jonathan Haydak got bombarded with emails from the college to sign up to be a part of the Museum Nights collaboration and display their art as well.

The chemical engineering senior has been making 3-D print structures for the past two years. When graphing spherical harmonics, or orbitals, for quantum chemistry, Haydak wondered if you could print them out to make a model.

Using a program to plot the 3-D points, he successfully printed out models of the orbitals he graphed. On his table, he had some of these orbitals along with structures of the Eiffel Tower, flowers and a model of a group of city buildings.

Haydak ends up giving most of his thermal plastic structures away but continues to make more. He started out using UF’s 3-D printer, and then he took the step to buy his own about a year ago.

After he noticed how often he used it, three months ago he purchased a better one.

“The reason why I keep doing this is it’s a good combination of math, computer science algorithms and programming,” he said.

For the attendees who wanted to create art of their own, the museum had activities and opportunities to do so in the classrooms on the lower level of the building and the Bishop Study Center. This included spin art and creating a 3-D tessellation out of paper.

In three designated areas in the museum, additional chairs were placed for people to enjoy the musical performances. Instruments like the violin and flute were played, but some had less traditional ones, such as the didgeridoo, beatboxing and building songs by looping live clips recorded moments earlier.

Sharing an area with one of these “stages” in the museum’s rotunda were the Harn Poets-in-Residence, Eileen Rush and Debora Greger.

On the several tables arranged side by side, they had three sizes of square paper in various colors to build a “Giant Origami,” which were towers of different sizes and heights. It was inspired by the mind castles the Romans and Greeks had, Rush said.

The idea was before you folded the paper into a piece for a tower or a roof, you would write or draw a memory, she said. Parents, children and students participated in this activity throughout the night.

Greger found the instructions for the origami, and they both agreed that it fit the theme. Engineers like to build things, and because the Poets-in-Residence are housed in the Asian wing, it would combine the two and allow them to showcase haikus in addition to the origami, Rush said. IMG_1363

Right next to the origami castle building, they encouraged people to use their imaginations and write poems of what a conversation would be like between two pieces of art.

Although some children ended up drawing on the paper instead, some people actually did sit and wrote poems, she said. This tied into the theme of the 25th anniversary exhibition the Harn currently has called “Conversations.”

Rush said they loved being around the music, and at first, the organizer was worried about placing them near the performances. However, they loved hearing the classical violinist and found the didgeridoo quite interesting.

Lynette Proud, first time visitor to the Harn, liked hearing the music in the background while she looked at the pieces in the galleries. While she didn’t catch any tours because she and her husband got sidetracked, they stopped and enjoyed a few of the performances.

She thought it was an awesome gallery and that is was great seeing the work of the engineering students.

“It’s nice for them to be able to put their art on display,” Proud said.

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