by Diana von Hallett
Coastal Journal Contributor
BRUNSWICK — Sunday’s Family Arts and Science Festival on the Brunswick mall marked the first time Five River Arts Alliance and Cornerstones for Science have collaborated on an event. Five River Arts Alliance board member Lee Cheever said the collaboration was “a natural pairing,” noting that “[the] imagination that scientists have to envision things that don’t exist, or to follow those roads that aren’t laid out for them, is very much like an artist.”
The festival offered an assortment of opportunities for participants to create, experience and learn about art and science, as well as programs being offered by various organizations. Curtis Memorial Library had an informational display on their new program that allows patrons to check out a telescope just as they would a book. Cornerstones for Science partnered with the library for this program, and also trained librarians in the use of the telescopes so they can instruct patrons. Members of local astronomy clubs were on hand to guide people in using two telescopes specially designed for viewing the sun. One young participant expressed disappointment when he looked through the lens and saw only “a lot of orange.” The volunteer explained that what he was seeing was a close up of the sun. The participant looked skeptical, but politely accepted the explanation. Less skepticism was evident at the “Imaginarium” (a term coined by Cheever and Festival Chairwoman Patricia Boissevain), where participants were encouraged to use their imaginations to fashion items from random objects and wood pieces.
In keeping with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of “Silent Spring,” by Rachel Carson, passages of the book were read aloud and exhibits and activities incorporated elements of the environment.
Activities were designed to be interactive and combine scientific artistic components. “Approaching science from a more artistic point of view, allows science to be more accessible and experiential,” said Cynthia Randall, Executive Director of Cornerstones of Science. Among the many interactive displays were opportunities to make sun prints made by placing leaves, flowers and various other items on photo-reactive fabric that changed color when exposed to sunlight, and Gyo-taku (fish printing), a traditional form of Japanese fish printing or rubbing, dating from the mid-19th century, a form of nature printing used by fishermen to record their catches. Those reluctant to handle fish could paint in a ready-made outline of a fish. Yet another display offered information on fossils and the opportunity to make a fossil.
While this was the first time the two organizations collaborated, Boissevain and Randall both felt the collaboration was a successful one that helped each organization further their missions of increasing public awareness through education and participation.
“I really felt we were on the same page,” Boissevain said. The crowds on the Mall Sunday seemed to agree.
More information on either of these organizations can be found at fiveriversartsalliance.org and cornerstonesofscience.org.