20 December 2023 • ArtsSTEM Creating Art to Capture the Wonder of Scientific Discovery

The artwork of Anya Davis ’24 fills two display cases in Rosenberg Hall.

For 10 weeks last summer, Anya Davis ’24 worked on a project that bridges the spheres of art and science and resulted in two art installations that now grace the second floor of Rosenberg Hall. Davis received funding for the project through HWS' Student Scholarly Experience program.

A display case in Rosenberg Hall featuring three-dimensional Petri dishes hand-painted by Anya Davis ’24.

“My goal was to make the worlds of art and science harmonize while encouraging dialogue, collaboration and a shared appreciation for the beauty of both fields,” says Davis, a double major in biology and studio art. “Art has the power to evoke curiosity and promote interest. By displaying art that captures the wonder of scientific discoveries, I wanted to encourage the community to ask questions and delve deeper into scientific topics.”

One exhibit features four screen prints that are artistic renditions of brain scans that were inspired by the neurological research of several faculty in the Biology Department. Mirroring metabolic heat images, Davis created designs using bright colors of blue and red. The other installation features a series of hand-painted, three-dimensional Petri dishes that were created using thick paint to mimic culture cells in the Petri dishes in the Biology and Chemistry Department labs.  

“Each one references images I sourced from patterns found under a microscope in the labs in the building. They are intricate forms I observed under a microscope. Each Petri dish was then dried, varnished, and hung on the display board,” she explains.

Professor of Biology Kristy Kenyon and Anya Davis '24.

Professor of Biology Kristy Kenyon served as a faculty advisor for this project. Davis also received support and valuable feedback from Professors of Art Nick Ruth and Ted Aub. As a sophomore, Davis worked with Professor of Biology Jim Ryan on an independent study project “Perspective of a Scientific Illustrator” where she created biological illustrations in a variety of mediums including digital drawings, graphite and ballpoint ink.

Currently, as part of her Senior Seminar with Ruth, she is exploring post-graduation careers of art residencies or working with publishers on textbook drawings.

Davis is a STEM Scholar, the recipient of the Ellen Freeman Scholarship in Biological Sciences and the Rev. Dr. Alger L. Adams ’32, D.D.’83 Scholar Award. She studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France in the spring.