The intersection between Chemical Engineering and Art

Thursday, April 20, 2023

First Indigenous Female Engineer, painting of people at a lake, art piece with poka dots and navy t-shirt
Recently people who frequent the halls of Engineering 6 may have noticed many unique art pieces on display. These works elicit a variety of reactions.

Judy Caron, Manager of Graduate Studies for the Department of Chemical Engineering, had the inspiration to reach out to the Fine Arts Department in the spirit of cross-collaboration and fostering connection to our wider University of Waterloo eco-system.

“The whole idea was to bring some art to the walls of the concrete environment in E6. Right beside us is the Fine Arts Department, people would never know it houses artwork,” said Caron. “Art promotes conversation and when the artwork is described it helps people to understand the art and it opens dialogue. With approval from our Department Chair Professor Mario Ioannidis, I invited them to spread the art through the hallways and stairwells of E6. Art makes people think, whether it’s positive or negative thoughts, it does evoke a response.”

Fine Arts Professor Tara Cooper developed the course which produced the exhibit entitled Takin’ it to the Streets, a shout-out to the 1976 Doobie Brothers’ song, embracing art’s potential as a call to action, or as the song says “take this message to my brother” [or my sister].  The project outline used a Public Service Announcement format, encouraging students to create unique art identifying something that they care passionately about and as the song says, take it to the streets—from protest posters to poetic commentary and political cartoons to philosophical wordplay.

The subject matter of the art ranges from sexism, and gender identity, to mental health and self-care within the pressures of university life. Some fine arts students used this as an opportunity to offer support to engineering students.

For more information please see the full article on the Chemical Engineering department website.

The exhibit, which has several new installations, will be on until April 28th.