Just within the last few weeks, two new temporary art installations at MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, near Santa Barbara’s waterfront, became open for viewing. Upon first glance, the two have nothing in common, but in truth, they deliver the same ultimate message: Anyone can be a scientist.
The first installation, DPEA Showcase, can be found on the second floor and features the work of high schoolers in their last year at the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy (DPEA). The products of these students’ labor are impressive. One wouldn’t guess that they were entirely designed and produced by 17- and 18-year-olds. Each exhibit is interactive, taking advantage of touch-screen technology to connect with museum-goers. On display is an infinity mirror that can be manipulated to reflect different angles, a metal ball that appears to draw hexagonal shapes in the sand all on its own, and a station that feels like a real-life arcade game.
The other installation takes quite a different form. Women in Science is a photo exhibit that lines the hallway leading to the Exploration Lab on the first floor of the museum. As community artist at the Squire Foundation and artist in residence at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), the artist Nicole Berry was able to bring her project to life. The series of portraits features female scientists, each image with a different color hue. Five of the portraits have accompanying audio, which gives the viewer the opportunity to listen in on Berry’s interviews with her subjects. In these sessions, she asks the women if they always knew they wanted to be scientists. She receives a unique, personal answer each time. The women also provide other insights. One points out that you don’t need a PhD to be a scientist, while another sees being a scientist as getting to be “professionally curious.”
It makes sense that these two installations are taking up temporary residence at MOXI, which classifies itself as a “destination for families and curious minds of all ages.” While the DPEA Showcase presents what curious minds can accomplish, Women in Science shows what those curious minds may look like. Altogether, it is made clear that there is no one particular way to be a scientist.
The DPEA Showcase shows through April 14th, and Women in Science shows through until August 25. See moxi.org.