Creating SciArt for the Public Art Arena

I have been fortunate to merge my love for science, experimentation and discovery with my love for creating art by growing infinitesimally minute crystals and recording artistic scenes by photographing them through the microscope. I recently decided to foray into the public art arena.

I applied to the University of Utah’s request for science-related art for their renovation and transformation of the Thomas Crocker Building into the Crocker Science Center. The new building will be a cutting edge innovated science center to encourage science research and advancement. They also believe very strongly in exciting people of all ages and walks of life to become interested in learning more about science. I loved the idea of being able to bring this incredible hidden world to the general public and to excite them to view science in a new light.

Progesterone hormone crystals - for public artI completed the application with my vision of how my art will help promote their goals. And to my surprise, about a week later I was notified that I was one of five finalists out of over 250 applicants nationwide to be selected to present a proposal for my art to be in their science center.

What a high! Now I needed to put together a proposal. I did a lot of research about science-related subjects and I acquired some new chemicals to play with along with my current list. I spent hours making dozens and dozens of slides. I tested different methods to get the chemicals into solution and then to get the solution to grow crystals. I experimented with setting up different conditions and I played with my camera and lighting. I was able to create a wide amount of interesting results.

This was quite a journey. I knew going in that I was still a long shot. Wall art is not always a top priority in public art projects like this. Still doesn’t mean you don’t go for the gold.

I found many chemicals did not want to form crystals or if they did, their crystals were not worth photographing. I did a lot of “playing” and was rewarded with a diverse set of crystals to photograph. Even then not everything was good. I would estimate one out of 50 pictures of a specific chemical is worth keeping and from those that I keep, I might select one that I am willing to print.

Last week my husband and I drove to Salt Lake City to present my proposal to the Crocker Science Center’s art committee for my art work. My presentation went well but I was informed a couple of days later that the committee had not selected my art for their public art project. Although very disappointed, I hold on to the knowledge that they liked my work enough to have me there plus I gained a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge.


Carol Roullard
Artist, Carol Roullard Art
Designer, Crystal Art Outfitters

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How exciting to go as far as you did! Although I think they made a serious mistake – your art would have looked amazing there!