If engineers can be artists, their kids aren’t far behind

Exhibit features works of art by children of members of the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Science

By: Hilary Parker
   Anyone looking for evidence that engineers do more than, well, whatever it is engineers do, needn’t look further than the walls of the E-Quad Café in Princeton University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.
   With a goal of showing who engineers are as people, former SEAS Dean Maria Klawe conceived the idea of holding art shows by and for SEAS community members in the prominent café, according to SEAS Manager of Finance and Administration Linda Geraci, who chaired the café art committee.
   The current exhibition of artwork by children of members of the SEAS community, on display through the summer, is one more way to celebrate the lives of the community members, she said.
   "It’s a time when a lot of faculty and graduate student children are in the E-quad and it’s an exciting time for them to be able to see their work," Ms. Geraci said, noting that the bright, Crayola-colored matting and whimsical display provided by curator Lispeth Nutt tie in with summertime thoughts of fun and play.
   The opening reception on June 8, like the exhibit, was kid-friendly — but that’s not to say the adults didn’t enjoy it, too. In lieu of the typical wine-and-cheese fare of opening receptions, children and their parents (and grandparents, in one case) munched on milk and cookies or brownies and soda as they viewed the 23 pieces displayed on the walls.
   Many of the children thrilled to the idea of presenting their work to a broader audience, including 6-year-old twins Gregory and Elizabeth Petro, said their mother, Victoria Dorman, who manages academic affairs at the SEAS.
   "They loved it," Ms. Dorman said. "They were telling everyone that their pictures are now in a museum, and I had a hard time explaining it’s a café," she admitted. Regardless, she said the exhibit is a rare and excellent way for the engineering school children to participate in the life of the school.
   Professor of Electrical Engineering Stephen Chou’s 5-year-old daughter, Allison, loves to paint and draw, according to her proud father. He was thrilled for his daughter to have the opportunity to display her work, he said, and to become friends with his colleagues’ children.
   Carley Brown, 9, the daughter of Operations Research and Financial Engineering Department Manager Connie Brown, also liked the chance to display her art and meet other SEAS offspring.
   "It was fun," she said, "Because I got to see other kids’ artwork and other people, and I got to share mine."
   While Carley made use of the advanced technique of perspective in creating the colorful cityscape she contributed to the exhibit, other pieces — such as the one by staff researcher Peter Frazier’s son, Jack — while equally colorful, were somewhat less complicated.
   After all, little Jack’s only 2.