The Elemental Kingdom
THE PROJECT CONTINUES
Over the past year the Chemistry Department has been raising funds to endow the Chemistry Honors Scholarship. During that time, art professor Matt Drissell has been working hard on a wall-sized periodic table that will grace the walls of the chemistry section of the Science & Technology Center and recognize those who donated towards the scholarship.
To date, Professor Drissell has completed about 40 of the 118 panels that will make up the periodic table. Helium, calcium, antimony and uranium are displayed above and below. Starting December 3, the completed panels will be on display in the Campus Center Art Gallery. We encourage you to come and visit and see the work done thus far.
As the art work is not yet done, the fundraising for the scholarship is also not yet complete. There are nearly 80 panels that are not yet sponsored. Donations of any amount are welcomed and appreciated. Donations in excess of $200 will give you the option to sponsor a panel until all the panels are sponsored.
In chemistry, we have the privilege to probe the details of God’s handiwork and explore the universe in all its grandeur by working to understand how atoms form molecules and materials. Elements, in the form of atoms, are at the heart of chemistry. The periodic table graphically organizes a wealth of chemical knowledge and wisdom regarding the properties and interactions of atoms. A single figure summarizes the entire science of chemistry. Moreover, the periodic table has an aesthetic character as a work of art, symbolizing the material potential inherent in creation, and humanity’s potential unfold the creation.
In light of this aesthetic character, the Chemistry Department is commissioning a new work of art for the Maatman Chemistry wing of the recently renovated Science & Technology Center. We are calling this commission The Elemental Kingdom, a recognition that all creation, including atoms and molecules, belong to the Kingdom of God. Faculty artist Matt Drissell has conceived of a beautiful design for this work. Through the very substances that chemists manipulate—paints, pigments, wood—this work of art will portray the periodic table as both the summary of fundamental chemical laws and a work of art, inviting students, alumni, and visitors into the fascinating part of creation that is chemistry.
Russell Maatman, with his wife Jean, after his retirement from 25 years of service a Professor of Chemistry, personally funded the Chemistry Honors Scholarship. Our goal with The Elemental Kingdom Project is to fully endow this scholarship fund. Thus, your donation will provide scholarship support to chemistry majors for many years to come.
My Grandfather was a chemist, working 40 years in the industry, first as analytical chemist with Mallinckrodt Chemical, and later as president and CEO of Forma Scientific. I fondly recall his stories of these experiences – learning German in order to read the only chemistry textbooks available in the 1950’s, or his travels as a salesman hawking chemicals from a briefcase. Being an art professor has led me in a different direction distant from the chemistry lab; my explorations take place in the art studio.
And yet, The Elemental Kingdom Project brings chemistry and visual art together. To begin with, the media itself is rooted in the lab – its resonance and permanence are thanks to chemists and their creativity. I then draw with the charcoal, graphite, and ink, creating lines and shapes that suggest atoms, orbits, and structures. Subsequent colors are added indirectly with thin layers of paints, further enhancing and defining the imagery. These marks and glazes though are abstract, elaborations stretching expectations.
This tension between complexity and clarity well describes chemistry and visual art – both explore mystery. This series is a tribute to all who undertake this endeavor.
Matt Drissell, Professor of Art