If you saw a picture of Alyce Simon, the word “radical” wouldn’t come to mind. She might have a prim and proper look, but when she got her hands on a high-voltage particle accelerator, she transformed into a radical. She used the machine commonly referred to as an atom smasher to create some of the most radical work the art world has ever seen, and you can see it for yourself at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum. Titled Alyce Simon: Atomic Art, this exhibit will be at the museum until Feb. 18.
Atom smashers and art don’t go together naturally, so it took Simon some time to perfect her craft. It began with an invitation from Dr. Kennard Morganstern. He was a physicist and also served as the president of Radiation Dynamics. Radiation Dynamics had an atom smasher, and he was interested in its ability to create art. He invited Simon to the laboratory to try her hand at the process, and she happily accepted. She started experimenting with this art form in 1962.
She began with sheets of acrylic. She exposed them to nuclear radiation with a process called irradiation. After exposing them to radiation, she stained them and then assembled them. They glowed with color and are still a sight to behold.
Then she moved on to her most impressive work, The Tree of Life series. She began working on this series in 1970 and continued until 1986. She likely would have kept going even longer, but Radiation Dynamics sold the atom smasher. The series might have been cut short, but it illustrates her maturity as an artist. By the time she created this series, she knew how to determine the effects of radiation before applying it. This gave her more control over the art and allowed her to create one of the most powerful artistic displays of her time.
You absolutely want to stop by the Louisiana Art and Science Museum to see this display. Before you go, though, head over to Brian Harris Chevrolet in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and pick up some new wheels. Then, you will be ready to hit the art museum for a bit. After that, you can take a road trip or just drive around town in your new vehicle.