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Artist Showcase : Lauren Szucki (and the Origin of SMArt)

Many of you may know Lauren from some of our outreach events or even just from emails – or maybe you don’t know her at all. But Lauren could very well be the reason we’re so lucky to have SMArt, so for that reason, it’s my pleasure to have her as our first Artist Showcase!

Lauren is currently in her fourth year of Integrative Biology here at the University of Windsor. Born and raised in Windsor, she went to Walkerville Collegiate Institute (a local art-oriented high school) but she’s always had a creative side.

From a young age, she explains, her fondest memories include finding new and creative ways to have fun with cardboard boxes. Combined with her fascination with dinosaurs, it’s no wonder science and art come so naturally to her.

As I mentioned, Lauren is one of the co-founders of SMArt, and it all goes back to a high school project of hers, where she produced one of our first pieces. Prompted with “Change”, she had 24 hours to complete a 2x4 foot painting. Inspired by her interest in evolution, she churned out this beautiful piece:

“I originally thought of the iconic progression of man imagery” she explains, which is where the skulls came in. From there, she included the Galapagos finches and peppered moths, other poster children of evolution. She went as far as including the number 1859, as an ode to the year Darwin published the Origin of Species. But of course, she remembered, evolution is constantly happening; and this is why she included some robot-like imagery, commenting on the potential for human technological evolution. This is when the idea of using art to communicate science was first realized by her.

Without anyone in mind to donate this piece to, she held onto it for a while. It was in her first year Biodiversity course that her friend – and our co founder – Taylor Bendig convinced her to talk to her prof about it. It was from that initial meeting with Dora Cavallo, the prof we’re so lucky to work with, that SMArt was born.

With more than 50 members involved in community events and collaborations with faculty publications, she never imagined SMArt would become what it is today. As for the future, Lauren hopes SMArt will continue to grow, and she looks forwards to the years to come. She’s hoping to pursue a career path where she can continue to use art in one way or another.

It’s been a pleasure watching you evolve, Lauren! We can’t wait to see what kind of SMArt stuff you’ll do in the future, puns fully intended!

- Dante Bresolin

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