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Where science and art meet

A sculpture in aerogel.

Internationally acclaimed artist Ioannis Michaloudis is visiting Lehigh University to share his insights into the creation of his unique, cloud-like sculptures formed from aerogel, one of the lightest materials in existence.

During his one-week residency at Lehigh, he is meeting with students and faculty from a variety of academic disciplines, leading a seminar in mechanical science and engineering, and visiting with local middle school students to demonstrate the flexibility and beauty of the aerogel medium.

He gave a free public lecture about his work at 12:10 p.m. in Sinclair Auditorium on Thursday, April 19, and is participating in a public glass demonstration on Thursday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Hot Glass Studio in the Banana Factory at 25 W. Third St., Bethlehem.

Michaloudis’ residency is sponsored by the partnership between the university’s acclaimed International Materials Institute for New Functionality in Glass and ArtsLehigh, the university-wide program that links arts, learning and life.

“Dr.Michaloudis' visit to Lehigh is important in that his work brings awareness to the notion of art encouraging science, which, in turn, encourages art,” says Silgah White, administrative director of ArtsLehigh.

“His work in aerogel, a new glass material, will inspire both scientists and artists to reach beyond the boundaries of known substances, to challenge each discipline to find out, what's next? It is a great opportunity for disciplines to work together in development of new materials for multiple purposes.”

The artist is best-known for the work he creates from aerogel, the space-age silica that is described as “smoke or cloud-like.” It is made of 99.9 percent air, and only 0.1 percent glass, rendering it not only beautiful, but surprisingly strong. The exotic substance has several unusual properties, such as low thermal conductivity, refractive index and sound speed. It also has an exceptional ability to capture fast-moving cosmic dust, and it was employed by NASA in the Mars Pathfinder and Stardust missions.

Michaloudis has exhibited his ethereal aerogel sculptures around the world at art galleries and at major international conferences on glass technology. Born in Greece, the artist studied fashion design in Paris, earning both his Master and Ph.D. of Visual Arts from the Sorbonne.

He is currently a research affiliate at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT, where he has focused on the creation of immaterial, floating works of art that employ the sculptural media of controlled steam and aerogels.

His research is funded by the IKY Foundation, the William Fulbright Foundation, the Associate Provost for the Arts at MIT, the Council for the Arts at MIT, and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies.

For more information on Michaloudis and his work, visit the ArtsLehigh Web site, call (610) 758-5775 or e-mail sus205@lehigh.edu

Posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2007

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