Art and Science, Teacher and Student, a Collaboration at the Museum of Science

water_storiesArtist Anne Neely’s large canvases, with rich hues of blues, greens and browns, hang in an exhibit hall in Boston’s Museum of Science. The paintings in Water Stories: Conversations in Paint and Sound reflect Anne’s interpretation of water issues plaguing the United States. This merging of art and science developed from a collaboration between teacher and former student. 

Anne was new to the visual arts faculty in 1974, and David Rabkin ’79 was one of her students, whom Anne describes as “inquisitive and full of ideas.” They kept in touch on and off over the years. David earned his doctorate in technology and innovation management from MIT and is now director for current science and technology at the Museum of Science. Anne retired from Milton in 2012 and focused on her art, specifically the phenomena of water, a subject of her paintings since 2004.

“I am an ocean-loving person,” says Anne, who has studios in the South End and on the coast of Maine. “The shifts and subtle changes of water patterns have been influential to me,” she says. After reading Water by Marq De Villiers she began a “decade-long search to find ways to paint unseen aquifers, rivers, oceans and streams.” She began researching water-related issues, such as droughts and fracking, and began to incorporate what she was learning. She arranged a meeting with David Rabkin to explore her idea about a water exhibition at the museum. Coincidentally, David had been thinking about mounting a water exhibit, as well.

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Faculty member Larry Pollans leads a discussion with alumni on politics in art.
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