Art is generally considered to be a subjective and creative realm, while science is presumed to be the domain of cold, hard facts. The reality, though, is that scientists employ a great deal of creativity in their problem-solving, and artists utilize many scientific principles in their work, especially chemistry concepts.
For this project you will be part of a group making at least one piece of art, and studying the chemistry concepts that are involved in that particular art form. (See the next section for tips on chemistry concepts to address.) You will individually report on at least two major chemistry topics, and as a group will make a museum-type display to showcase and summarize your project. To begin your study, click on the appropriate art medium link at the top of the page.
For this project you will be looking at how chemistry relates to two main aspects of your art work:
• materials used
• techniques and processes utilized to manipulate the materials
For each major material the members of your group should address the following chemistry concepts as applicable:
• Classification—element, compound, homogeneous mixture (or solution), or heterogeneous mixture
(includes colloid and suspension)
• Chemical formulas—For key compounds determine chemical formulas if possible, or at least the main elements.
• Properties—Describe major physical and/or chemical properties that are relevant in your art work.
• Periodic table—For any key elements describe how position in the periodic table relates to important properties.
• Chemical bonding—Describe the chemical bonding and/or forces of attraction involved, and explain how that
• Polarity and Solubility—For any liquid mixtures, discuss polarity and solubility of materials as applicable.
• Phases of matter—Discuss any special properties of solids, liquids, gases, or aqueous solutions that are relevant
(e.g. crystal structure, surface tension, capillary action, etc.).
• Kinetic molecular theory—If particle motion is particularly relevant, you may wish to address this.
• Gas Laws—If relationships among temperature, pressure, and or volume of gases are important in your project,
discuss the relevant gas law(s).
• Acid/base chemistry—If this is important, you should explain what makes materials acidic or basic, and relate to
the pH scale.
For the art techniques or processes used, note how the properties of the materials are utilized, and pay special attention
to any physical changes or chemical changes that occur.
When describing techniques and processes, address any of the following concepts as applicable:
• Chemical reactions & equations—Describe the types of reactions involved, and write chemical equations if possible.
Types of reactions could include synthesis, decomposition, single displacement, double displacement, (or some
combination of these), combustion, acid/base, oxidation/reduction, etc.
• Stoichiometry—For any reactions in which quantitative relationships are important, this could be addressed.
• Phase changes—Note any changes of state or other important phase transitions (e.g. precipitation or dehydration).
One topic that each group should address is one that is not typically treated as a separate chemistry topic, namely color.
There are different causes for color in different materials, so color is related to other topics in chemistry or physics.
Check out the following website for an explanation of different causes of color: http://www.webexhibits.org/causesofcolor/
Credit—The image at the top of the page is from a series of art works titled Chemistry on Copper, by Cheryl Safren, and used with her permission. To see more of Cheryl's dazzling work, go to her website: http://safren.com/