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Penn State SPS Art Exhibition

Event description

For three days in April the Pennsylvania Society of Physics students hosted an art exhibition motivated by the concept that the scientific and artistic communities should talk and learn from one another. Lasers are a wonderful way to start this communication between disciplines; lasers are ubiquitous in society yet often poorly understood by the general public.

Penn State SPS Art Exhibition

Penn State SPS Art Exhibition

All students, faculty, and members of the local public were encouraged to submit artistic works in various media. The only condition was that their work should portray an understanding of the science and importance of lasers, as detailed in an accompanying essay. In order to encourage participation and quality, cash prizes were awarded.

University students were the most eager group. We received twelve diverse displays from students of a wide variety of backgrounds, including economics, astronomy, visual arts, and painting. These works were designed to highlight both the scientific and aesthetic aspects of lasers. Two faculty judges, one each from the Eberly College of Science and the College of Liberal Arts, judged the pieces to determine the allocation of prizes.

The exhibition itself was publicized on campus and began with a reception where artists and visitors mingled and discussed the works over refreshments. Thereafter, the display remained open in the Verne M. Willaman Gatway to the sciences, the main walkway between Penn State's life science and chemistry buildings, for two days. After this, the works were moved to the Penn State Learning Center where they remained on display for remainder of the semester.


Attendees of the reception and later viewers of the exhibition were exposed to the history, science, and applications of lasers with a poster and table display throughout the event. The display explained how lasers tied into the theme of the exhibition. This poster also included acknowledgement of the Laserfest grant.

Penn state SPS Art Exhibition

The event itself included the work of five student volenteers and 2 faculty judges. 25 people total participated in the initial event and an unknown number saw the artwork and LaserFest poster during the time the exhibit was displayed in the walkway and in the Penn State Learning Center. The group was quite diverse. About 70% of the entries were from women one of the faculty judges was African American, and two participants that had entries even though they were studying abroad at the time.

Feedback and Publicity

After the event we received feedback from student organizers, faculty judges and members of the Penn State Exhibition Club about the event. Specifically, we discussed the effectiveness of the venue and organization as it pertained to reaching an audience beyond the scientific community. SPS will be partnering with the Exhibition Club for a similar event in 2011.

Our chapter was featured in the Winter 2009 edition of the SPS Observer on page five. Web version.

Final Budget

Facilities: $150
Advertising and Prizes: $340
Materials for the laser display: $60
Food for reception $100
Total: $650

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