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UGA illustration programs merge hard science with fine art

Alan Flurry

UGA’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in scientific illustration is housed in the Lamar Dodd School of Art in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. The program has produced decades of alumni who have gone on to pursue careers and graduate study in the field, including Christian, Pederson and its very own Chair of Scientific Illustration, Gene Wright.

Like all art majors, scientific illustration students learn about perspective, light, color and the other foundational components of creating any kind of art. But, while their peers in other specialties may experiment with impressionism or abstract art, scientific illustration students receive specialized training in depicting the world realistically. 

“What we’re trying to do is give undergraduate students a fundamental understanding of what it means to be a science illustrator, and that includes the philosophy about how you’re supposed to treat this type of illustration,” said Wright. “It’s not about its beauty as an illustration; it’s meant to teach something. How do you lead a viewer through the drawing to teach them what you want them to learn?”

This lesson isn’t an easy one for Wright’s students. Before entering the major, many are more familiar with traditional art, where accuracy often matters less than color or emotional quality. As they work through projects—and endure several rounds of critiques—they begin to develop a thick skin and, more importantly, a scientific eye. 

Read the complete UGA Research Communications feature... 

Image: Illustration by B.F.A student McKenzie Young

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