Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Rachel Pidcock ’09 discusses her experience as an EXCEL Scholar with Ed Kerns, Clapp Professor of Art

Rachel Pidcock ’09 (Allentown, Pa.) is majoring in art. This year, Pidcock is serving as an EXCEL Scholar under the guidance of Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp II ’36 Professor of Art. Along with fellow art majors Alaina Lackman ’09 (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Allison Thompson ’08 (Saddle River, N.J.), Pidcock has assisted with works for the upcoming exhibit “Word, Mind, City: A Universal Resonance” by Kerns and Elizabeth Chapman, which will be on display in the Martin Gallery at Muhlenberg College from Nov. 20 – Dec. 15.

Each time I walk into Professor Kerns’ studio on the second floor of the Williams Visual Arts Building, I prepare myself to be transformed. The process of making art inevitably changes a person. You do not end with what you started, for what you begin with evolves and develops creatively into a living organism. I find art inspiring because of this change. It markedly affects a person, propelling him or her into a new state of mind, one that sees the big picture through minute details. The current activity in Professor Kerns’ studio fuels itself on the parallels between the city and the mind.

Last spring I joined the team of Professor Kerns and his collaborative partner architect Elizabeth Chapman, with two other Excel Scholars – Alaina Lackman and Allison Thompson. We have completed a large number of works that will appear at Muhlenberg College this month in an exhibit entitled “Word, Mind, City: A Universal Resonance.” The show culminates years of research into the parallels between language, the mind, and city structure, resulting in a show that expresses overwhelmingly beautiful and important patterns shared by the three.

Working for Professor Kerns has enabled me to develop a more nuanced artistic process. He magnificently achieves his visions through the rigorous consideration of many elements: the image, the meaning, and the material.

To create the works for “Word, Mind, City: A Universal Resonance,” I was responsible for finding images, digitally printing the images, and finally composing the works through layers of imagery and material. The works distinguish themselves through their distinctive and unprecedented union of ideas and artistic materials.

The team created the works through a process of layering. By digitally printing images such as maps of medieval Hamburg and neighborhoods of ancient Rome onto various materials including backlight film (used for outdoor advertisements) and acetate (a clear film), we constructed the works by layering pieces of material. Some layers are graphic images of Purkinje cells or acrylic brains while others are made of meshed wire and computer chips. The final images result in unique compositions of imagery that express Professor Kerns and Elizabeth Chapman’s overall aim of communicating the intriguing relationships between a city’s structure, the structure of language, and the structure of the mind.

Significant discoveries were made throughout this process, in both the scientific and artistic sense. By analyzing images of a city’s core, we discovered that they stunningly demonstrated an exact reflection of the human brain in both image and composition. On a level of more detail, images of neurons and epidermal cells reflected the structure of a city’s physical layout; combined with images of cuneiform and Mandarin.

Art transforms because it takes us outside ourselves. Through working with Professor Kerns, Ms. Chapman, Alaina, and Allie, I have determined that art is often more successful when it is created through an evolving, and at times not so obvious, collaboration of people and ideas.

Categorized in: Academic News, Faculty and Staff, News and Features, Student Profiles, Students
Tagged with: , , , , ,