An Artist’s Note on Art in Science
Received May 14, 2012; revised October 22, 2012
I decided to write about art in science by telling personal anecdotes surrounding my involvement in astronomy. These portray what drove me (with a career in the Fine Arts) to try scientific illustration through involvement in the American Association of Variable Star Observers’ Citizen Sky project to observe the eclipse of epsilon Aurigae. These accounts define what I believe to be at the core of being a scientific illustrator: the importance of maintaining accuracy and factual detail without compromising the compelling visuals that evoke curiosity. This, as most people realize, is an important factor in being able to successfully engage the public in science—particularly in astronomy. However, my intention in telling these anecdotes goes deeper than stating the importance of disseminating scientific knowledge through imagery—for which ample examples and literature already exist. Instead, I’m really after contrasting the role of a science illustrator versus that of an artist. In doing so, I will underscore what I believe illustrating phenomena in science really is all about. This note is not intended as a scholarly treatise but rather personal reflections relative to my involvement in Citizen Sky.