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Student Success Stories - Christina Pappas

Christina Pappas

Intersection of art and science

Christina Pappas’ long-held interests in art and science left her undecided about what academic major to pursue in college. But at the University of Maine, she found a way to study both.

“I wouldn’t want to do one without the other,” says the senior from Suffern, N.Y. “I was brought up with the mix of art and science backgrounds. There are various members on my mom’s side who pursued art as a career in one fashion or another. On my father’s side, there are a lot of science-based people. I like challenges, puzzles and problem solving.”

Ultimately, Pappas declared a major in studio art, with a concentration in printmaking and minors in biology and chemistry. She receives her degree this December and hopes to find a graduate program that also melds her passion for art and science.

“I’m in love with the graduate program called medical illustration. It’s the reason why I chose to do biology with art,” she says. “My other option for graduate school is art conservation or art restoration. They both have the same kind of portfolio background.”

Pappas is particularly interested in art used to help visualize medical and scientific concepts through the use of simplistic logos, diagrams and illustrations for books and other publications, as well as 3D animation and computer graphics.

This past summer, she took a course in natural science illustration at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center.

Pappas’ ideas for her art and photography often come from nature. She does photography and pen-and-ink drawings. One of her color photographs, titled “Mount Katahdin,” was selected to appear in an international juried online exhibition, sponsored by Upstream People Gallery.

But her favorite media are printmaking and sculpture because of the complexity of their processes.

“It’s the joy of the process and the joy of the techniques that I like,” she says. “Anything complicated. Anything that everyone else doesn’t want to do, that’s what I want to do.”

Some of her prints and sculptures will be on display as part of the Department of Art senior capstone exhibition, “You Are Here,” in Lord Hall Gallery, Dec. 3-Jan. 20.

Currently, two of her prints are hanging in UMaine’s Fogler Library. The 6-inch by 6-inch works, “DNA Polimerase III” and “Potassium Ion Channel” are pieces of a larger print presented in the form of a glass cathedral window. She created them in a printmaking class last year.

“The prints are taking a look at the (relationship) between science or religion and science and art,” says Pappas. “My art tends to offer questions, not answers. I don’t want to say that there’s any kind of answer between science and art and science and religion. I’m kind of making an observation that they are more similar than they are different.”

One of the ways art and science are similar is in the way both disciplines begin their investigations.

“When you are choosing what idea to create or pursue, you’re easily flooded with ideas, but you have to weed out that one good one in the sea of bad ones. And it takes dedication to start working when you don’t know the idea. Scientists have to have that same kind of dedication to work through the difficult problems,” says Pappas.

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