Reintegrate: Enhancing Collaborations in the Arts + Sciences

The Reintegrate grantees at the Leitner Planetarium and Observatory in New Haven during a reception on January 17, 2013. Photo by Brad Horrigan.

The Reintegrate grantees at the Leitner Planetarium and Observatory in New Haven during a reception on January 17, 2013. Photo by Brad Horrigan.

By Amanda May

At first look, the worlds of art and science can appear fundamentally different, while, in reality, they share languages and processes. During the Renaissance, geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci were both artists and scientists. Over history, paths diverged and the fields became compartmentalized and culturally segregated. With a special state grant, the Arts Council has created the Reintegrate project to bring these two worlds back together.

The project began in September 2012 with a widely distributed request for proposals that attracted 42 submissions from artist/scientist teams. An independent panel of artists and scientists awarded $10,000 grants to teams whose projects met a variety of criteria, including an emphasis on the collaborative process.

Seven exceptional teams of artists and scientists are currently collaborating on projects. Find out how their projects are going by visiting and looking for “Team Updates” and “Team Videos.” The seven teams will make a joint presentation as an Ideas Talk at the Yale Center for British Art, at 5:30 p.m. on June 19, as part of the International Festival of Arts and Ideas.


Get to know the Reintegrate teams:

Place as Character

This project asks the question, “How do authors create a sense of place?” If you’ve ever watched a movie adapted from a book and it didn’t look quite like you pictured it, you’ve probably thought about, too.

Andrew Bardin Williams (author, copywriter) and Kathleen Colin Williams (Ph.D. candidate in the geography department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) are tackling this idea by creating an expandable database of places from scenes in literature.

They have begun by populating the database with five, then 15 novels from three cities: New Haven, San Francisco, and Duluth. (For example, the New Haven novels are: Everything Looks Impressive by Hugh Kennedy, The Wedding of the Two-Headed Woman by Alice Mattison, Fountain of Death by Jane Haddam, True Confections by Katharine Weber, and Joe College by Tom Perrotta).

Once all of this information gets entered, the team will analyze the data to determine how artists create a sense of place. The hope is that the database will be continuously updated by the public and used by scientific researchers and book lovers across the world for many years to come.

Cross-Discipline Learning Kits

Also known as “The Beer Team,” Quinnipiac University assistant professors Charmaine Banach (interactive digital design) and Karen Bliss, Ph.D. (mathematics) are creating a template for a course to help educators teach math (and students learn math) by making beer. They even plan on bettering beer recipes in the process!

They are currently working with a team of Quinnipiac University students on how design-thinking intersects with the mathematics behind making beer. The team looks to improve beer-making (from the design of equipment to controlling the beer-making process) at Make Haven, a local nonprofit that is a workshop for tinkerers, hackers, and makers of all things. Upon completion, the cross-discipline learning kit will be available to the public for professional and academic use.

Discovering the Higgs

This team has taken on the seemingly impossible task of expressing the complex science behind the Higgs boson discovery with singular photographs.

The team: Sarah Demers, Ph.D. (particle physicist, assistant professor in the physics department at Yale University, and member of International ATLAS Collaboration – analyzes data from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland), Emily Coates (dancer, choreographer, writer, researcher, and director of the dance studies curriculum at Yale University), and Kike Calvo (photographer, bilingual journalist represented by National Geographic Stock).

Coates and Demers have collaborated in the past, creating the course “The Physics of Dance” at Yale University. In this project, they are adding a third catalyst, photography, and will address the question, “Why is it always a one-sided translation – physics into dance?”

“We seek nothing less than new metaphors through which physics concepts may be imagined … We want to explore the possibility that choreographic imagery – the organization of bodies in space and time – may actually lend back to the science new ways of conceiving of the Higgs and hence new frameworks through which to imagine scientific discovery.” – Demers, Coates, Calvo

Sculpting the Census

This project poses the question: “How can census data be visually interesting?”

For this project Jeff Slomba, artist and professor of art at Southern Connecticut State University, is teaming up with Patrick Heidkamp, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of geography at Southern Connecticut State University and an affiliate of the Economic and Social Rights Research Group at the University of Connecticut’s Human Rights Research Institute.

They are going to take geospatial data and creatively render it as sculptures to provoke powerful sensory experiences.

“As an example, one piece would focus on accurately displaying uneven economic development/poverty in greater New Haven or Connecticut through the sculptural rendering of census information on household income as an ‘unseen’ topography. The three-dimensionally mapped Census data would create holes of disparity and peaks of wealth on the piece. Viewers engaging with the piece, may locate themselves within these topographical ranges, reach for and touch peaks of wealth, and peer into the dark depths of poverty.” – Slomba, Heidkamp

Conversations on Body and Faith

Have you ever gone to an art exhibit and were asked to give something of yourself? You may at this installation …

The science of medicine mixes with the art of glass-making and installation for this project that aims to teach the public about the human body and to have them question the fragility of it, their faith in it, and the implications of disease with a large, multi-faceted installation.

The installation (site TBA) will have an interactive component that will allow the audience to take from it a precious, meticulously made glass gall bladder, but at a price. It may be as simple as leaving one’s name, or it might include a pledge to donate blood, to emphasize that one can’t just remove something without consequences, be it from your body or from this exhibit.

The team is: Lucinda Liu, Yale Medical School sudent; Daryl Smith, glassblower, Yale Department of Chemistry; Michael Skrtic, glass artist, stained glass instructor, owner of Glass Source; Richard Gusberg, M.D., professor of vascular surgery, director of surgical clerkship at the Yale School of Medicine; G. Kenneth Haines, M.D., professor of pathology, director of general surgical pathology at the Yale School of Medicine; and David Yuh, M.D., professor and chief of cardiac surgery at the Yale School of Medicine.

“We often think of our bodies as separate from who we are. We are our intellect, our dreams and loves, our beliefs; whereas our bodies are the shells in which we reside. … Despite how much our bodies do for us and define us, only through disease do we realize how much our bodies matter to us.” – Liu, Smith, Skrtic, Gusberg, Haines, Yuh

Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Have you ever been told you’re your own worst enemy? The phrase takes on new, profound meaning among people struggling with PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is widely common among veterans, and many who return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan find themselves fighting a much larger battle in their own bodies. This team is hoping that this project will bring greater awareness to the everyday struggles of our nation’s soldiers and encourages those in need to seek help.

The team is: Dexter J. Singleton, actor, director, playwright, executive director of Collective Consciousness Theatre, and Eric Jackson, Ph.D., research faculty member at the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, psychologist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Haven.

The collaboration began with interviews of local individuals who have been diagnosed with PTSD. It is important to the team to give these individuals a voice, and to lend true authenticity to the project. In addition to their work on PTSD, Singleton and Jackson will also be exploring how the brain functions and adapts. The results of these brain explorations will be on display in several public performances of theatrical work this summer.

Pluripotency Dance

Everybody has an opinion about stem cells. Whether people feel they need to be thoroughly researched, or left alone, these “pluripotent” cells can be extremely polarizing.

This dance/cell biology/education team’s goal for Reintegrate is to build an interactive, multimedia performance piece that explores stem cells and the ethical implications of stem-cell research. The piece will address the fact that many non-scientists have opinions about stem-cell research, and that their opinions may not be based on a full understanding of relevant science and ethics. Focus will be placed on how individuals bring their full thoughtful and emotional selves to both scientific exploration and artistic creation.

The team is the most “veteran” participating in Reintegrate. They have been collaborating, combining science and dance, for several years already. They are: Laura Grabel, stem-cell biologist, dancer; Lauren B. Dachs, chair of Science and Society, professor of biology at Wesleyan University; Elizabeth Johnson, dancer, choreographer, educator at Arizona State University; and Chris Willems, science educator at Metropolitan Business Academy.

Reintegrate has been made possible with support from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of the Arts.

Amanda May is the Arts Council of Greater New Haven’s communications manager and the project coordinator for Reintegrate.


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