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Light Chasers: An Intersection of Art & Science


Light Chasers: An Intersection of Science and Art

Photography by Rick Swanson
August 8 – September 15, 2019

Opening Reception: Friday, August 9 | 6 - 8 pm, with an artist talk at 6:30 pm

Admission is free.

Gallery Hours:
10 am – 6 pm | Monday – Saturday
12 pm – 4 pm | Sunday


This exhibition explores the parallels between two groups of  “light chasers”: those who chase light with their cameras, and those who chase light through scientific experimentation. As Carl Sagan once said, “It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.” I connect my photographs to historical scientific perspectives of the nature of light’s properties such as reflection, refraction, and diffraction.

A key element of this exhibition is that I am working in the medium of black and white film, developed with coffee. While the technique of developing film with coffee is fairly well-established, there remains a bit of mystery and uncertainty to the process. This project documents my attempts to refine the process of using coffee to develop images that have the right combination of contrast and grain.

Artist Biography

Rick Swanson is a chemist, educator, and self-taught photographer. He studied the history of science in graduate school, especially the history the electron and the nature of light. While historical narratives often present a linear and clean-cut description of how scientific thought develops, Swanson has found the story usually has more twists and turns than meets the eye. In opposition to those who say that science detracts from ones ability to appreciate art, Swanson finds beauty in both the science and the art of light and color.


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts & cultural heritage fund.

Earlier Event: August 2
Arcadia at the Castle