Pearl Galido: Connecting Art and Science

The paintings are the culmination of the independent research project that Galido conducted as the recipient of a Summer Undergraduate Research Award (SURA), a program that partially funds student research projects through endowed gifts to the Dietrich School. Pearl worked closely with her faculty mentor, associate professor in the Department of Studio Arts Mike Morrill, on the project. 

The project—a series of five paintings based on thin-layer chromatography and color extension theory—is a great example of how she seamlessly merges her two majors. Galido explains, “I spent the first four weeks of my summer analyzing organic molecules through thin-layer chromatography. I focused on separating chromophores in the materials that we engage with every day (like raspberries and spinach). These plates produced unique color palettes that I matched in oil paint. Using these color palettes, I created a set of five paintings based on color extension theory.”

She continues, “As a double major in chemistry and studio art, I have experienced how techniques utilized in each discipline can inform one another. Throughout my experiments in the laboratory, I was concerned not only with scientific technique but also with the aesthetic beauty of the results. Reciprocally, in the studio, I was aware of both the significance and presence of each color. Through this research, I invite others to investigate the similarities between science and humanities in an effort to nurture the complementary perspectives of each field.”

“I hope that the product of my research results in more students exploring different fields and enriching their undergraduate careers through the intersection of art and science,” she says.

It was Galido’s own pursuit of this intersection that sparked her curiosity and ignited this research. She began her time at Pitt intending to major in chemistry and minor in studio arts, but Barbara Weissberger, senior lecturer in the Department of Studio Arts, saw her passion and encouraged her to double major.

“I didn’t believe I had room in my schedule and was convinced that a double major was impossible. But as I took more classes, I realized I couldn’t imagine my undergraduate career without studio arts. That spring, I met with associate professor and advisor in the Department of Studio Arts Galido’s research on display as part of the Studio Arts Summer 2017 Creative Research Exhibition, presented by the Department of Studio Arts; the University Honors College; and the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (OUR) Lenore Thomas, who graciously sat down with me; scheduled the rest of my undergraduate career (with my chemistry major in mind); and assured me that a double major was, in fact, possible. I don’t know that I remember the details of that day, but I do know how I felt: I felt incredibly liberated from the fear of the impossible.”

Galido also notes how the well-rounded education she has created through the Dietrich School’s resources have uniquely prepared her for her life after graduation, especially her plans to attend medical school.

“As a future health care provider, it is of the utmost importance that I understand not only the mechanics of the human body but also how to engage the human body in meaningful relationships. Through my double major, I have developed the tools that will be useful for understanding and caring for other people. Studying chemistry and studio arts has introduced me to a plethora of amazing ideas, perspectives, and people. Chemistry gives me the ability to understand the world; studio arts gives me the ability to communicate with the world. By pursuing both of these majors, I have developed an awareness for the world we live in and the impact we can make.”