Reigniting Awe: A 5280 Fellow Inspires Artists and Scientists Through Collaboration
by Hannah Echols-Grieser
As a teenager, Chloe Johnson aspired to study and work as a visual artist. Today, she has a doctorate in metallurgical and materials engineering and works as a metallurgist for ELEMENTUM 3D. Though her day job may seem like a switch from her earlier dreams, she’s found that the art and science world have a lot in common.
“When considering how the right brain (art) and the left brain (science) work together, I saw how important they both are to wholeness of mind,” Chloe shared. “Putting art and science together is an externalization of the creative process.”
Chloe’s day-to-day work as an engineer derives from the natural world, and her art often implements the same materials. She fills canvases with a compilation of oils, acrylics, mica, and sticks, to name a few. Through science and art, Chloe looks to create order out of the chaos and reflect on the beauty of creation.
A desire to further integrate her faith and work led Chloe to the 5280 Fellowship with Denver Institute for Faith & Work. The Fellowship is a nine-month program in spiritual formation, professional development, and civic influence that forms Christian professionals to serve God, neighbor, and society through their work. As a part of the 5280 Fellowship, fellows create a professional project that addresses a need in their field.
Chloe noticed that strenuous education and the arduous scientific process had run many scientists ragged. “New researchers come in excited and leave exhausted. They lose their spark,” she acknowledged. Chloe saw a need to reignite the inspiration and wonder that compelled scientists to the field in the first place. The antidote? Art.
For her professional project, Chloe paired scientists and artists together. The scientists described their work to the artists, and the artists created a visual depiction of the science. After the creative process was complete, the project came together in an event at the Denver Art Society, where Chloe is a member. During the event, Chloe interviewed each of the scientists, and the artists showcased their corresponding art piece.
“The artists really got passionate about the scientists’ work, and vice versa. It was awesome to see,” Chloe reflected.
For example, artist Michelle Vasquez was paired with electron microscopist Margaret Fitzgerald. During the event, Michelle sported bright periodic table leggings and emphatically shared her painting. “It shows nanoparticle movement and illuminates under black light,” she described.
Artist Matthew Galles was paired with metallurgist Ben Ellyson. Matthew was captivated by the timeline of metallurgy and the impact it’s had on society, so his painting depicted that history from the copper age to the iron age.
Whether it comes in the form of future art and science events or through her own work, Chloe hopes that scientists and artists alike will be inspired to expand their perspective on their craft. As a scientist, this event showed Chloe that there is a wide array of audiences outside of the scientific community that would be interested in the work. As an artist, it expanded the realm of possibilities to collaborate and connect with a core message. “We all have opportunities to organize the chaos around us and create good,” Chloe mused.
As Chloe completes the 5280 Fellowship and continues to integrate her faith and work for the good of the city, wonder and beauty serve as her anchor.
“Scientists and artists are to discover beauty and think about it aesthetically and functionally. There is an intimacy to learning the deep secrets of how something operates,” Chloe said. “The thing we have in common is wonder, and this wonder comes from a love of the beauty that we see around us.”
Share this article
This post was published May 19, 2022
Hannah is a Georgia girl who loves writing and hearing people’s stories. She currently serves as the developmental intern for Denver Institute for Faith and Work and works as the lead copywriter at WealthBuilders. She is interested in the intersection of faith, work, and business, which makes working with the DIFW team a huge blessing. In her free time, Hannah enjoys spending time with her husband, Mason, and puppy, Gabe, cooking, being in the sun, and writing for her blog, milkandhoneyco.org.