STEAM2017 Events Explore Integration of Art and Science

Pensacola STEAM2017 is a five-week program of exhibitions, lectures, workshops and talks with artists and scientists at the University of West Florida that explores how art can be added to the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math to explore issues related to water and the preservation of a clean environment.

Activities begin Feb. 2 with an exhibition opening at The Art Gallery on campus at UWF. The program’s final day of exhibition is March 11. It will feature a colloquium on March 4 at the Pensacola Museum of Art during which artists and scientists will meet for panel discussions that are open to the public. Conversations will focus on how art and science are similar and what it means to work in both disciplines simultaneously.

“I’m hoping to create a public dialogue and provoke conversation,” said STEAM2017 organizer Thomas Asmuth, who is an assistant professor in the UWF art department. “We are trying to collapse some of the distance between statistics, what is heard in environmental reports and what you personally experience. We want to talk across the disciplines of art and science to try to create an environment where art inspires, collaborates, and even contributes to the solutions of the scientific problems we face.”

Elizabeth Demaray, an associate professor of fine art and head of the sculpture concentration at Rutgers University, will speak at the closing colloquium on March 4. She will also speak at 5 p.m. March 3 as part of the UWF Downtown Lecture Series at the Pensacola Museum of Art. Her topic: the importance and implications of cross-disciplinary collaboration.

For a complete schedule of the free lectures and workshops that will take place throughout the month of February at locations including the UWF campus as well as Artel Gallery and First City Art Center, both in downtown Pensacola, visit

Among the presenters is Jiayi Young, professor of design at the University of California, Davis.

“I believe artistic and scientific collaborative endeavors can catalyze, accelerate and materialize idea translation to collaboratively solve pressing problems the world is faced with,” Young said.

“Some examples of these problems include the topics of food, poverty, sustainable energy, ecology and natural resources. … Collaborations can leverage the arts’ unique ability to ignite creativity under the most unlikely circumstances, to frame problems in order to challenge the status-quo and to inquire about the obscure in order to materialize bold ideas and experimentations.”

Young and her husband, Shih-Wen Young who is a professor of astronomy and physics at American River College in Sacramento, Calif., will be exhibiting an installation called “Dance of a Tiger.”

Consisting of an eight-channel soundscape and a panoramic projection, the Youngs’ installation maps migration tracks of Bluefin tuna in the context of sea surface temperature changes and fishing vessel routes in the Pacific Ocean.

The goal of the installation is to allow the public to experience an audible and visual environment that reflects the lives of marine animals in the heavily fished areas in the Pacific Ocean.

Like many of the guests who are participating in STEAM 2017, Young and Young will talk about their motivation and the different processes involved in their work.

“The goal of our presentation is to engage and promote public conversation,” Jiayi Young said.

Funding for STEAM2017 was provided through a grant from the Florida Humanities Council with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities.