The first two ARCHEMY shows used elements of the Periodic Table and iron filings to make visible the invisible the force fields around magnets. The works on paper presented here in Iron, Rust and Redox begin to explore iron, magnetic fields, and rust as a chemical reaction. The early works use iron filings to make visible the invisible lines of magnetic fields, which fascinated Einstein as a young boy to begin his scientific life. When iron combines with oxygen, it forms rust; pieces of found rust are used in some of these works. In 2015, Dan worked with students of the chemistry class at the Boston Arts Academy to teach them about iron, rust and magnetism, and together they made a 25-foot scroll with these materials that was on exhibit at the Boston Convention Center for one year in 2016. That forms the centerpiece of the current show.
All chemistry is based on the interplay of electrons between elemental atoms. One example of oxidation is the reaction whereby iron loses electrons and combines with oxygen to form rust. Reduction is the opposite reaction where atoms gain electrons such as copper sulfate reacting with iron to form copper metal or silver nitrate reacting with copper to form metallic silver. The final artworks in this show combine elements such as iron, copper, silver and sulfur with chemicals made from them by redox reactions. They are abstract works that capture the dynamism of chemical reactions as an allegory of the metamorphoses that occur when fields collide.
Dan Jay is a visual artist combining art and science with a unique perspective of a scientist’s mind and an artist’s eye. Dan’s mission is to inspire where art and science meet. In the mid-1980s Dan was elected a junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows to do science and art and was provided with both a laboratory and an art studio. He is now Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Professor of Developmental Molecular and Chemical Biology, and Adjunct Professor of Drawing and Painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. Dan develops new art media from scientific materials to express inspiration in science and has exhibited these works in a series of shows called ARCHEMY (Art + Chemistry). Dan has shown widely, including at Harvard University, the Massachusetts State House, Boston Convention Center, the Museum of the National Center for Afro-American Artists, the Peabody Essex Museum, and Boston Museum of Science, and has shown internationally in France and Canada.