The ancient Greeks believed that artistic training and experience are essential to the human spirit and the development of creative minds. So did Renaissance thinkers, and so does Technion President Uri Sivan. Indeed, since 2020, the Department of Humanities and Arts has expanded its mission to include new research and additional teaching initiatives in history, philosophy, ethics, music and arts. As part of this expansion, Prof. Sivan this year established the Artist in Residence program, generously sponsored by Mrs. Sonia Marschak.

The Sonia Marschak Artist in Residence program aims to combine the humanities, sciences, technology, and engineering professions, and create a dialogue around the interfaces of these fields. The participating artists teach a course in their area of expertise, perform and create on campus, and conduct joint research with faculty and students of the Technion research community. One of the initiatives of the Artist in Residence program is the “Music, Science, Inspiration” series of concert lectures, set up and hosted by pianist Dr. Orit Wolf. The series brings together leading Technion scientists, international guest artists and student musicians, combining all the elements of the expanded mission of the Department of Humanities and Arts. As part of the series, scientists and artists share their experiences of seeking creative solutions, dealing with mistakes and struggling with ethical questions. They discuss and demonstrate the many ways in which science and music interact: from AI’s ability to recognize performers to how a pianist can empower motoric rehabilitation. The concerts, which also feature live performances by guest artists and by some guest scientists, have gained considerable popularity on campus, attracting large crowds of students, faculty, and administrative staff.

Dr. Wolf also teaches two courses on the canon of western classical music repertoire, and leads masterclasses for students who are also musicians. This has created a prolific and supportive musical community within the Technion that enables students from all majors to get one-on-one mentoring and experience live performances in front of an enthusiastic, receptive audience.

As part of the Artist in Residence program, in the first semester of this academic year, Dr. Elad Shniderman, a multidisciplinary sound artist, led a workshop for B.Sc. students, focusing on sound as an artistic medium. Having learned about sound components from scientific, technical, and artistic standpoints, the students then created sound artworks of their own. “I tried to share my difficult journey into panic attacks. I combined sounds of marine animals with background noises,” student Dana Guma said, explaining her project.

Dr. Shniderman collaborated with Dr. Lior Arbel from the Industrial Design Program of the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning to create a sound installation, which is now on show at the Pyramida Center for Contemporary Art in Haifa. He also received an invitation to propose an artistic / scientific project with the Technion to the international Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

During the spring semester, sculptor Nardeen Srouji led a workshop to teach students about art history and the various art movements, and how science and technology shape art. Based on the knowledge the students acquire, they will submit a final project focusing on position and location in sculptural art.

The Artist in Residence program provides our Technion students with the thrill of having the opportunity to combine scientific and artistic expression, applying their professional knowledge in different ways, and learning about the unexpected manners art and science can blend. Creativity, going off the beaten path to find new answers and ask new questions are skills essential to good scientists and good engineers – which is what the Technion students aspire to become. These are the skills the Artist in Residence program nurtures. Program registration for the next academic year is already open, and we can’t wait to see the increasingly interesting projects and collaborations this initiative will bring.