Chemistry murals

 man and lion.A couple of my students did a project last spring that might be of interest to your readers. Chrissy Bresadola and Leah Cuker, who took Chem I and Chem I/AP Chem (respectively), painted a chemistry-themed mural over my classroom door as a senior project (both are more interested in art than chemistry!). They did a fantastic job.


The mural was Chrissy’s design based on some guidelines I gave her; Leah mostly did lettering and some of the painting. Overall the project required three weeks of full-time work to complete. The design is based on aspects of the history of chemistry, particularly alchemy. The top-right panel depicts an alchemist in his laboratory, in a style modeled on the paintings of David Teniers the younger (1610 – 1690). The alchemist is distracted, as Teniers’s figures often were, perhaps by the mouse in the corner (we have mice even though the building is new). Teniers’s pictures often had a window up on the wall, with an out-side onlooker peeking in. We also have a window, but with a modern twist — instead of a townsperson at the window we have Maxwell’s demon, presumably just having let a slow particle pass.


The center-right panel is the alchemist’s hearth with a cauldron (instead of the more likely crucible – artistic license I suppose), along with some books and lab equipment, most of which is colored glass because of the difficulties involved with painting clear glass. The books in all three panels have the titles of famous chemical treatises from the early alchemists down to Mendeleev. The third pane (bottom right) is my favorite chemical quote, appropriately decorated by the artists. Below is the impact of all three panels surrounding my door.

Teniers’s paintings can be seen at the exhibit, “Transmutations: Alchemy in Art” by Lawrence M. Principe and Lloyd DeWitt
(Philadelphia: Chemical Heritage Foundation, 2002).

Long live the connection between art and science!

All above chemistry murals.