Image by farlane via FlickrI try to take advantage of Chicago's rich cultural institutions during the summer, and one of my favorites is turning out to be the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). I often like to go on their free day (Tuesdays) and try to time it so I can hop a free tour as well (1pm, 2pm, 6pm on Tuesday). Today's tour focused predominantly on Alexander Calder and several artists influenced by him. I could not help but be amazed by the connections to science and engineering that Calder, Middlebrook, Boyce and others made in their works.
Image via WikipediaThe exhibition, which goes until October 17, 2010, is titled "Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy" and the title says it all. When I taught physics, students would often engage in experiments where they found their center of mass, as well as other silly parlor tricks. I think that showing them mobiles and other pieces in the exhibition would make a great connection between art and science. I envision students getting immersed in the art, learning the science, and then applying it themselves by creating a mobile of their own. It was no surprise to find out that Calder studied mechanical engineering, as the topic appears front and center in so many of his pieces. I'd also consider using the artists' work in an environmental science course, as Calder seemed to be an early adopter in the idea of reusing materials in his work, and his practice inspired others to do the same.