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ArtLab seminar speaker, Dr. Jay Clayton, looks back at Vanderbilt’s long history of art and science synergy

Posted by on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 in Blog.

ArtLab seminar speaker, Dr. Jay Clayton, looks back at Vanderbilt’s long history of art and science synergy

Jay Clayton, Ph.D., Professor of English with an interest in art, science, and policy surrounding genomics, met with ArtLab for the second seminar series presentation. Dr. Clayton, who is also Director of The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy, reinforced the long history of interdisciplinary projects here at Vanderbilt. Importantly, Clayton highlighted the necessity for research on the impact of art and science collaborations. He reasons that art/science projects need to build an evidence base for the effectiveness of such collaborations, and they will endure by determining and evaluating the impact of the project on societal change. The measure of societal change could occur in a variety of ways including policy reform or public perception. The fundamental concept, however, is to be creative and engaging. “Creativity is key to 21st century economy“, says Clayton. “These creative skills include anything from empathy, curiosity, problem solving, and flexibility and tolerance for ambiguity that are required for constructing a better future”.

The Curb Center originally began as an arts policy center, and it has expanded its mission to include the creative campus movement. Presently, The Curb Center offers a variety of resources for innovative, interdisciplinary projects including video equipment, sewing gear, textiles, makers devices, a gaming studio, and recording equipment. There are also many programs available including the Public Scholars Program for graduate students and the Catalyst Creative Grant for funding new projects on campus (…including ArtLab!). The Curb Center supports and collaborates with numerous other groups on campus including the Kefi Collective and The Wond’ry, all of which fosters an ecosystem ripe for creativity.


10 projects highlighted by Dr. Clayton include:


  1. Chelsea Peters for her research on water quality issues and book publication. Visit the Curb Center to view the exhibit ‘The Art of Farzana’s Journey: A Bangladesh story of the water, land, and people’.


  1. Gokul Krishnan’s mobile maker’s space within the Children’s Hospital

  1. David Weintraub’s Cosmo plates: Astronomy and Art: Perseus-Pisces Galaxy Cluster


  1. Performing music to promote pro-social behavior: Psychology: Music and pro-social behavior. The Music Cognition Lab


  1. Iliza Butera study of rhythm perception and language in hearing-impaired children. She used the mannequin has an ear simulator implanted in its ear canals.


6.SENSE Theater is a 2-week day camp for youth, 7-18 years of age, with and without autism spectrum disorders.

7.  Ecological Theater: “How to Build a Forest” Inspired by the loss of old growth forest in Hurricane Katrina. The exhibit took a total of two days to build and less than half an hour to destroy.


  1. Music, mind and society: Founded in 2015 through a Trans-Institutional Program Grant, the program for Music, Mind & Society at Vanderbilt is a collaboration working together to accelerate the understanding, application and impact of music on individuals, and on society at-large.


  1. Kefi Collective: The organization is dedicated to the creation of public art within the Vanderbilt campus. We unite creative individuals within the Vanderbilt community to rethink how users of the campus interact with their environment.



Kendra H Oliver, Ph.D.

Visiting Lecturer, The Wond’ry

*Photo’s curtesy of Dr. Clayton and the Kefi Collective Instagram.