Posted in communication and networking, education, museum, music

SPIE Art Show

I just have to plug a recent project I worked on: The SPIE Art Show and silent auction! SPIE is “an international society advancing an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light.” They are best known for their huge international conferences devoted to photonics and other studies of light, but also produce books, journals, classes, and other events.

But who are the people behind SPIE? Who are the staff who devote themselves 40+ hours a week to creating these light-based event? I work there, and I didn’t even know. So, I figured, what better way to learn about my coworkers than through their art, how they express themselves, how they spend the other few hours of wakefulness not bringing light information to the elite masses. I and my hard-working team invited all staff and family members to submit a piece of artwork or craft to the show.

We had a great turnout of artwork, and a wide variety (photos below), from knitted baby caps to milagros to an “installation piece.”

crocheted baby hats pretty necklaces art show 3 

Most of the pieces submitted were sold as part of a fundraiser for the local non-profit Mother Baby Center. The MBC’s goal is to support and provide services to soon-to-be and new parents, especially when they can’t get services elsewhere, from doctor referrals to nursing classes.

How does this event relate to my blog? I think a lot of people’s assumptions are that a) those who are interested in science aren’t also interested in the arts; b) the faces we see in one setting – school, work, church – are the entirety of that individual, and c) that art is not a legitimate or substandard use of time, or at least not appreciated by anyone but the artist. I hope this event proved all these assumptions wrong, and hopefully by writing about this event it will inspire other organizations to do the same.

For the record, and possibly as another incentive to organizations, we ended up raising a substantial amount of money, enough that the organization is already talking of doing it again next year.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.