Observation: The Intersection of Art and Science on Appledore Island

Hal Weeks was a Harvard graduate student in the 1980s and did research that required he walk around Appledore Island extensively to study its tide pools.

In an interview for Circa, Weeks said, “The past resort hotel and the artistic salon convened by Celia Thaxter that included Childe Hassam were well known and part of the context of living, working, and studying on Appledore.” Occasionally journalists and photographers or professors would come out to Appledore looking for the spots that Hassam painted. Weeks would help these explorers find the sites using his expertise of the rocky island.

Years later, as digital images became more readily available on the web and Weeks had taken the position of assistant director of the Shoals Marine Lab, he continued to look at Hassam’s paintings and, as a hobby, tried to locate them around the island.

Along the way he met NCMA curator John Coffey, and together they found many, if not all, of the exact sites Hassam painted from.

Weeks is a trained scientist, not an art curator. But when I asked him what the fields of art and science have in common, he immediately answered in a word: observation.

Listen to our interview to learn more about how closely Childe Hassam captured the same patterns in tidal pools that scientists have observed decades later.https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/258799379&color=cc0066&auto_play=false&hide_related=true&show_comments=false&show_user=true&show_reposts=false

Childe Hassam, Isles of Shoals, 1907, oil on canvas, 19 1/2 — 29 1/2 in., North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, Promised gift of Ann and Jim Goodnight

Catch before they close June 19: Tickets for the NCMA’s exhbition American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals are still available. Admission also includes Marks of Genius: 100 Extraordinary Drawings from the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

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