Art and science share many common values, including imagination, experimentation, and innovation. In celebration of the two disciplines, 16 Barnard students from the Art History Department showcased their creativity in an exhibition titled Ecological Imaginary, on display at the Louise Heublein McCagg ’59 Gallery in the Diana Center from February 28 to March 18. In recognition of the Barnard Year of Science — a celebration of all things related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at the College — the exhibition features 23 different projects by students who explore technology and scientific inquiry in their work.

The art show was organized by Caroline Weinstock ’20, visual arts and curatorial assistant, and Irena Haiduk, an artist and assistant professor of professional practice in visual arts. 

Check out samples of the artwork below, along with students’ descriptions. Photos courtesy of John Miller, Art History’s professor of professional practice, and Mary Cunningham, Communications Dept.

Delaney Michaelson ’24, Series One: the degradation of OUR planet, photography

A photograph taken from ground level depicts a man in an orange straw hat holding what appears to be fishing line

“This photographic series is a personal perspective on our planet. I photograph my experiences, specifically my travels, as captured in this series, to help demonstrate the worldwide effects of the climate crisis and how hearing other perspectives, like scientists, can assist in collectively mitigating the issue through technological advancement.” 


Angela Wei ’22, Navigator, acrylic on canvas

A painting depicts a naked woman covered by starfish and wielding a trident while surfing on a clam

“My painting depicts a woman navigating through tumultuous water. She kneels on top of a seashell that she uses as a raft, while sea stars are plastered against her body. 

“Although I am an art student, one of the most interesting classes I took at Barnard was Oceanography. The course introduced me to the diversity of creatures in the ocean, the intricate ecosystem that they live within, and how human activity has greatly diminished its health. My piece aims to show the rich biodiversity of the ocean and introduces a harmonious environment where humans and nature cohabit peacefully. This is an integral message as we are living through a potentially irreversible climate crisis.” 

Alison Siegel ’22, Lucky for you I wasn’t listening (whisper of a leaf), concrete, leaf, playdough; and Metropolitan Garden, oil, very coarse marble sand, glue, shale, rocks

A wooden hand sticking out of the wall holds a crumpled piece of a mesh material

“The sculptures are constructed out of industrial materials: plaster, cement, rock, and sand. Each object questions the relationship between human and nonhuman life in urban environments. How do the landscapes around us negotiate and navigate our relationship to the natural world and to each other?” 


Noa Kalfus ’25, Grace Hopper: “Oh my G-d! I’m totally debuggin’!” watercolor on paper

A painting depicts a portrait of Grace Hopper

“This is a watercolor portrait of Grace Hopper, a trailblazing computer pioneer and naval officer. Hopper was originally a mathematician. However, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, she took a leave of absence from her position as an associate professor at Vassar and joined the U.S. Naval Reserve. She was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard, where she was responsible for programming the Mark I, a task for which she is now credited as one of the first three computer programmers. 

“Hopper received countless honors and awards, [including] the National Medal of Technology, the United States’ highest technology award, which she became the first individual woman to receive in 1991. Hopper’s dedication to making programming accessible to everyone profoundly altered and improved the course of the field. It was Hopper who first called a programming error a ‘bug’ and referred to removing such problems as ‘debugging,’ a phrase I use almost every day as I write, run, and discuss my code.”


Kassia Karras ’22, Climatorium — Climate Disaster Simulator

A poster shows an architectural rendering with different pulled-out information about the Climate Disaster Simulator

“My ‘climatorium’ design is a science building concept for the Natural History Museum. The purpose of the building is to allow visitors to walk through the various ‘pods’ attached to the main forum, where each pod will simulate a different climate disaster — air pollution, flooding, wildfires, earthquakes, etc. — in order for visitors to build empathy and understand the gravity of our climate change crisis.”


Delia Tager ’22, Before the Yolk, yarn, tree branch, acrylic paint

A hanging sculpture looks like a thin tree branch with some other objects hanging off it

“Using the organic world as a backdrop to place ourselves gently into the seeming everlastingness of beauty, we can attempt to align ourselves with the closest thing to magic we’ve deemed attainable: knowledge. An expression of pure madness, a semi-solid work ethic, and just enough attention to detail has collided just in time for these pieces to exist playfully with one another, as if on a date, and unaware that we are eavesdropping.”


Taylor Bluestine ’22, Heat Maps, colored pencil on Shrinky Dink plastic, paper pulp, acrylic medium

Two jagged shapes side-by-side look almost as though made of concrete. The shape on the right has two rainbow-colored heat maps affixed to it, as well as a fossilized flower.

“This work explores the aesthetics of thermal imaging, a scientific process. The two colored images are thermal photographs of flowers and a house. The thermal images reveal information about these environments not readily available to the human eye, such as cracks in insulation and the timing of photosynthesis. Other natural themes are explored. A smaller image of a fossilized flower is placed in the left corner. Lighter paper pulp is placed on top of the main gray color, reminiscent of growing mold.” 


Shannon Hui ’22, Reimagining Smokey Mountain: Community Upcycling Center, digital collage renderings

Shannon Hui wears a mask and stands beside three architectural renderings on the wall

“Smokey Mountain of Metro Manila emerged as a product of decades of waste disposal and top-down negligence, cultivating haphazard conditions for unplanned settlements and environmental crises. [This piece] represents an architectural network of structures and facilities, each programmatically serving a different gap and need in the community to build resilient local infrastructure for climate justice, education, shelter, waste management, and other socioeconomic, environmental, urban, and political systems. The proposed community upcycling center includes the functions of the typical recycling facility: tipping, processing, and storage. The center also cultivates opportunities for education, enterprise, and elimination simultaneously, through recycling training workshops, laboratories to harness research in materials and optimal treatment practices, a makerspace for artisans to create products made from recycled materials, and multipurpose spaces for an open market to sell preloved goods as well as crafts made by local businesses in the community.”

Anna McColley ’22, iPhone fossils, plaster, mylar, wax paper

Five dummy iPhones are on display, with black-and-white screen renderings of the artist's memories

“iPhone fossils are an ongoing project of mine. Each ‘fossil’ [consists] of a memory from my phone — screenshots of Snapchats, text conversations, memes I’ve saved, and vaguely funny internet phenomena — cast into plaster in the form of my iPhone 8. I’ve latched onto these memories for various sentimental reasons. By exhuming these memories from my personal device, I hope to strip them of the space they occupy in my storage.”


Alison Siegel ’22, 11/13/2021, A* and 11/13/2021, B*, digital inkjet print

Two abstract paintings hang backlit against the gallery windows

“I developed these images with photography chemistry (developer, fixer, and soft resist mediums).”


Andrea Bustamante ’23, Filterium

A poster shows an architectural rendering of Filterium

Filterium is a building that is designed to clean rainwater through a central filter system in the middle of it. The system is composed of different materials and technology that can help the water become cleaner. Then, everything inside the building reacts and develops around this filter. There are forums, classrooms, and labs where the main focus is to find ways to clean polluted bodies of water around the world. The building itself is an immense observatory around the filter. Filterium then uses technology and nature to reuse water around all the spaces, such as the garden on the ground floor and the vegetation growing on the roof. Filterium acts as a filter, a sponge, and also as a center to explore and take action on solutions to clean water around the world.” 


Karolina Szenkiel ’22, Too Much of a Good Thing, watercolor on paper

Karolina Szenkiel stands next to her painting depicting vaginal microbiota under the microscope

“I wrote a biology thesis on the human microbiome last semester. Part of that thesis involved talking about the vaginal microbiome and the various diseases associated with it. These diseases are fascinating because many of them are incredibly common, yet we know so little about what exactly causes them recurrently in some people.

“My painting depicts a vaginal microbiota under the microscope. I wanted to portray cytolytic vaginosis, which is a condition caused by an overgrowth of L. bacillus bacteria. Normally, this species of bacteria is beneficial and protective in the microbiome, but overgrowth can lead to damage to the vaginal epithelium, hence, ‘too much of a good thing.’”

Lauren Koralnik ’22, Reflection in color, oil on canvas

A painting shows a mountain range depicted in white, black, and bright yellow and reflected in a lake at its base

“This painting depicts abstract mountains and their reflection in a body of water. This work relates to Barnard’s Year of Science as it depicts the beauty of our natural world, and the discovery inherent in nature. Not only does this painting allude to geology and natural structures of the earth, but it is also scientific in its use of color. Painting is a science, and artists study pigment to create the correct combination for our desired effect. In this work, I paired the complementary colors yellow and purple to create a striking vibrating effect that mirrors the movement and shifting nature of the earth around us.” 


Fabiha Ahmed ’24, Our Fight, digital inkjet print

A painting shows a trio of masked doctors with arms crossed among brightly colored shapes and scientific objects

“COVID-19 has made everyone around the world talk about health, viruses, and treatment. The pandemic also provoked many to do research about viruses and vaccines. However, COVID-19 is very unpredictable. We don’t know if another deadly virus would appear, [because] science is unpredictable. Science is about being open to change and being adaptive. My artwork represents the pandemic and how scientists and healthcare workers from diverse backgrounds come together to adapt to the change and act upon the unknown danger. 

“The artwork shows a representation of how various components of science, such as data, technology, and biological sciences, came together to fight this pandemic. It represents adapting to change, but together.”


Eli Duncan ’22, Cell Lineage, oil on panel

A painting shows a dark square of organ tissue circumscribed within a lighter square of a similar-looking material

“The term ‘cell lineage’ describes the developmental history of a tissue or organ from the fertilized embryo. Cell lineage shows a history of synchronicity that begins with the first stage of gestation. In this work, I explore the resilience of these movements.”


Eleanor Davol ’22, Re-Imagining the End Life of 3D-Printed Earthen Material

Eleanor Davol stands beside 3 renderings from her research project

“This piece is an experimental research project I designed and conducted for the Natural Materials Lab at [Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation]. It combines design with science and technology by rethinking the life cycle of 3D-printed earthen building materials for a more sustainable, circular future. 3D-printing earthen material is a new innovative form of technology, and this design study pushes it a step further to think about how to reintegrate the earth back into the landscape, and seeks to depict this process through experimentation and visualization.”

text saying "Year of Science" surrounded by various scientific paraphernalia, such as beakers, gears, and nuclear symbols