Catawba College Chemistry Professor, Dr. Carol Ann Miderski, knew she had a sell-out class when 24 students from a variety of disciplines signed up for her Chemistry in Art class this spring semester.
The course description read like a well-edited classified ad designed to sell:;
Chemistry in Art: For Centuries, artisans and craftspeople have
worked with materials to make items of great beauty, value and
utility. In this course, we will be learning about materials and
processes both ancient and modern while exploring the chemistry
behind them. Each lab will include a new craft project in a
different medium. In class, we will explore why the materials
behave and interact as they do through a developing understanding
of materials chemistry. We will be working with a variety of
materials including paper, fibers, glass, metals, dyes, pigments, and
Miderski's students learned just how successful their learning had been over the course of the semester when they exhibited the products they made in class before a wowed audience at a Project Expo in Catawba's Lilly Center on April 24.
Senior Sheldon Rogers of Waxhaw, N.C., who is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre arts, said he waited until his senior year to satisfy a required laboratory credit because he was hoping for an "interdisciplinary course." In Miderski's class, Rogers found it. He created silver thumbprint earrings for his mother and a Celtic cross using a precious metal clay process, created three silk paintings and made a fused glass night light. These were several of the art projects pursued in the class which appealed to Rogers, but he like his classmates completed almost a dozen more, with varying degrees of success.
Sophomore Kali McCullough of Nashville, Tenn., seemed to speak for most of her classmates when she said, "Chemistry is cool, especially when you add art." McCullough's success was demonstrated in the paper she made, in her devoré silk scarves, and her fused glass night light.
Other art works created in Miderski's course included lampwork beads, anodized niobium jewelry, oil paintings, tie dye products, indigo prints, frescos and cyanotype prints. Dr. Miderski said, "It has been very rewarding to see how having an actual product to take home and show family or friends has made the science more relevant to students' lives."
For those Catawba students lamenting the fact that they were shut out of Miderski's spring course, they will have another chance this fall semester. Miderski will be teaming up with Catawba Theatre Arts Professor David Pulliam to teach an interdisciplinary course called Art Materials: Science Meets Expression.