ALLENTOWN, PA.— Can light and imagery have a positive effect on human health? That is the question Professor Lyn Godley explored during a recent lecture held at Da Vinci Science Center.
Godley is the Director of the Jefferson Center of Immersive Arts for Health and Professor of Industrial Design at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Her lecture followed an afternoon of leading a professional development session for teachers. The educators were learning to make art by programming the color and timing of strips of LEDs using Arduino circuit boards and a variety of translucent and opaque materials that reflect and refract light.
An artist and lighting designer, who has been working with light since the early 1980s, Godley said that she always wanted her work “to go beyond self-expression,” and her work has evolved to explore the effects that imagery, light, and color have on the viewer at all scales, from large public spaces to interior installations to tabletop luminaires.
The cross-disciplinary work in the Center of Immersive Arts for Health is aimed at determining the physiological and psychological effects of dynamic and interactive art using light so that optimal lighting environments can be designed for healing and calming. Clinical research has shown, for example, that hospital patients recover more quickly in wards with dynamic lighting that mimics natural daylight. “If art can get people out of bed it is now therapy,” she explained. Godley acknowledged that working across disciplines to identify new ways of treating illness such as depression or pain management is both challenging and exciting. “Scientists aren’t used to talking to artists, and vice versa.”
Ann Bebout, PhD, STEAM Education Program Manager at Da Vinci Science Center noted that the Center’s professional development invites educators to take an interdisciplinary STEAM approach to teaching and learning, combining science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Lyn Godley and her art + design students embody this approach. K-12 students can similarly play with mesmerizing LEDs and create artwork while learning about energy, the electromagnetic spectrum, electrical circuits, and coding. Godley’s visit to the Da Vinci Science Center was made possible through a Professional Development for Arts Educators grant from the US Dept of Education in which teachers are trained in the use of technology in arts-standards-based classes. A lending library of equipment is available to for classroom use by the teachers through the Carbon-Lehigh Intermediate Unit (3D printers, laser cutter/engravers, and classroom sets of various microcontroller and robotics kits).
Coincidently, Playing with Light is the featured summer exhibit at Da Vinci Science Center. The exhibit invites guests to discover or rediscover how light plays a vital role in our daily lives through play, experimentation, and of course, creativity. While the exhibit is designed to appeal to a young audience, it reinforces many themes in Godley’s work, the relationship between art and technology and how light and art mesmerize, excite, and spark curiosity.
For more information on Da Vinci Science Center and to reserve tickets for Playing with Light, visit www.davinciscencecenter.org.