behind the art
Bold colors, intricate details, and smooth brushstrokes. I believe in the power of thought-provoking paintings that communicate scientific concepts in innovative and accessible ways. My inspiration comes from a desire to connect us to the natural world, shrinking down unfathomable, larger-than-life objects to more relatable scales and bringing a sense of reality to the vastness of the universe.
Through my work, I weave together scientific data and telescope images to create unique multi-spectral paintings. My goal is to provide you with a different lens stretching beyond the limitations of human vision to view familiar astronomical objects in new ways and transport you to exotic, distant worlds beyond our reach.
Growing up on a farm in the countryside of Indiana, my rural upbringing and nights spent under the stars camping with my dad inspired my love of science. But collecting cool rocks in the driveway and running outside during a storm wasn't enough for me. I decided to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a scientist, enrolling in college at age 21 as a first-generation student. After transferring around and learning how to navigate higher education, I graduated from Purdue University in 2013.
My first round of applications to PhD programs were unsuccessful, but I was accepted into a two-year master's program. Things did not go as planned. During my first year of graduate school, a careless driver crashed into my car, shattering my foot and leaving me unable to walk for six months. All I could really do was stare out the window. Birdwatching got me through a difficult recovery and ignited a new passion.
Shaking off the weight from rejections and injury, I eventually pursued a PhD from the University of Arizona, graduating in 2021 with a hybrid doctorate in planetary sciences and science education. I loved my research studying the atmospheres of exoplanets and brown dwarfs. After a short post-doctoral fellowship, I realized I had been running myself into the ground for quite some time and was extremely burnt out from everything I had to overcome. I decided to take a much needed break from academia and pursue new adventures.
Throughout my entire journey, art has always been by my side, but my creativity often took a backseat to my educational pursuits. The challenges of balancing multiple part-time jobs left little time and energy for painting, and the echoes of past bad advice—"you can't be a scientist and an artist"—were always haunting what I should prioritize.
Co-organizing and participating in my graduate department's annual art show, The Art of Planetary Science, helped me connect with scientist-artists for the first time. My passion for painting was rekindled. I used this drive to learn new mediums including spray paint, oils, watercolors, and digital art. A more creative outlet from my day-to-day quantitative work was just what I needed to feel rejuvenated.
I stepped into a more public role in 2020 joining social media and forming Steller Arts—a science communication platform created to unite science + art—named after one of my favorite birds that helped me recover from my car accident. My hope is to inspire others interested in astronomy to pursue their dreams who, much like me, might not feel like they fit the mold of a scientist.