For more than 50 years, artist and inventor Tom Shannon has been exploring the intersections of art, science and technology in unexpected, mind-bending ways. Science Museum Oklahoma guests will have the chance to experience his science-inspired art in a new exhibition opening Nov. 24 in the museum’s smART Space galleries: “Tom Shannon: Universe in the Mind | Mind in the Universe.”
Shannon’s internationally-renowned work features sculpture that explores scientific themes and natural forces like magnetic fields, large-scale installations, paintings and numerous patented inventions like his synchronous world clock, a version of which is in the Smithsonian Institution’s collection. The smART Space exhibition is his first in Oklahoma.
“Tom Shannon’s contributions to the world of art and science are beyond significant — it’s been an honor to work with him on this exhibition. His work is a synthesis of art, scientific research and advanced insight. It’s both simple and complex, minimal but sophisticated, and he puts the impossibly small and the impossibly large — things like atoms, planets and stars — in a scale that you and I can understand. He truly makes science more accessible through visual art,” said Scott Henderson, director of the smART Space galleries.
The exhibition, open through Oct. 25, 2020, and included with general admission, features the U.S. debut of “Atom Compass Array,” an installation of hundreds of magnetic spheres suspended from the glass roof of the museum’s lobby. Equidistantly spaced and magnetically interconnected, the white halves of the spheres always face north, while the black and white halves together show the phases of the moon as a guest walks around it.
Within smART Space, guests can experience a 6-foot edition of Shannon’s synchronous world clock created specifically for SMO, sculptures 50 feet in length and another that appears to levitate, dozens of pages of first drafts, sketches, observations and ideas that will give guests a look into Shannon’s creative mind, and more.
“The ensemble of works in this exhibition was selected to express some of the entwined characteristics of the world we live in: time, space, relativity, the invisible forces of electromagnetic and gravitational fields, atomic through astronomic proportions, the geometry of perspective, and weightless equilibrium — all in relation to human scale,” said Shannon, of the exhibition at SMO.
“I got the idea early on that by employing the discoveries of science as subject matter in art would increase the artwork’s power to connect to the broadest spectrum of culture. The universe is in the mind and the mind is in the universe.”
A gallery opening with Shannon is set for 6-8 p.m. Nov. 23 in the smART Space galleries. Guests will also be able to view the recently opened “Cosmic Culture: Intersections of Art and Outer Space.” There is no cost to attend, however guests must reserve tickets in advance at www.sciencemuseumok.org/smart-space.
Located at 2020 Remington Pl. in Oklahoma City, Science Museum Oklahoma is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Daily general admission is $16.95 for adults (ages 13-64) and $13.95 for children and seniors (ages 3-12 and 65 and older). Annual memberships begin at $105.
For more information about the smART Space galleries at Science Museum Oklahoma, visit www.sciencemuseumok.org/smart-space.