Exploding the Binary
Tweeting, the Inez Louise Henely 1914 Best in Show-winner at the 2014 Bachelor of Arts Exhibition (BAX), is a series of 14 pieces of handmade paper with watermarks of text from Twitter.
The artist, Delia Salomon ’14, explains what led her to create this work. “When I learned how to make paper in Chemistry of Artistic Materials, I was fascinated by how it was originally a hand-made process.” The juxtaposition between the instantaneous nature of modern social media and the lengthy, laborious process of papermaking struck her.
Although Salomon is a prize-winning artist, her major is based in the Noyce Science Center rather than the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. Her parents’ artistic natures rubbed off on her, but in the academic world she was drawn to science. That’s not to say that she necessarily sees art and science as a binary with a gulf in between. After she came to Grinnell and started studying both more, she realized that “the artistic process and the scientific process are pretty similar, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that.”
“Developing both an artistic and a scientific way of thought has helped me immensely. Even in a science class, my experience with art — making art — reminds me that there are other people out there, which is easy to forget when you’re doing science,” Salomon says.
Grinnell provides a climate that encourages students to stretch, whether that means participating in sports, playing music, or taking a class in an unfamiliar discipline.
Salomon sees art as a practice and a mode of thought that connects her with the rest of the world. “My professors always say ‘art doesn’t exist alone.’” Art helps Salomon appreciate and understand why she pursues science. Both the scientific and artistic perspectives are useful in gaining perspective on the world. “Art and science used to be very closely tied — the study of anatomy, for example,” she says. “Each uses different tools, but both demonstrate a desire to understand the world around us.”
During her semester abroad in Valparaiso, Chile, Salomon found that not all colleges support work in multiple disciplines the same way Grinnell does. An art professor in Chile asked Salomon what her major was, and when she said it was biology, he laughed. Salomon said that she gained a great deal from the experience of studying abroad, but it also gave her an increased appreciation for how supportive Grinnell’s professors are. She is especially grateful to professors Jeremy Chen and Lee Running. Both encouraged her in her artistic pursuits and pushed her when she was hesitant to submit an entry for BAX.
Looking to the future, Salomon plans to serve in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, with a placement in San Francisco. She intends to use her free time to train to swim the English Channel, a feat she first attempted at the age of 16.
BAX is an annual professional exhibition of mature student works in the creative arts, including visual and performing arts. It is held towards the end of each academic year in Faulconer Gallery.