Professor Sam Gorovitz shares his artistic side in sculpture, photos
April 28, 2015, by Samuel Gorovitz
Editor's Note: It’s said that truly creative people do not distinguish between art and science—that one informs the other. Take Samuel Gorovitz, professor of philosophy and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to being a pioneer in the field of medical ethics, he is a gifted and insightful photographer.
The following images have been shot by Gorovitz, quite literally, all over the world. He has selected each one for its aesthetic attributes and scientific interest. The result is an enduring homage to the rich interplay between art and science.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted by visual arts. In the 6th grade, in my basement darkroom, I marveled when images, dimly lit by a red safety light, emerged in the developer – as clarity emerges in a mirror when condensed steam from a shower slowly evaporates. In high school, a dear friend painted a mural on my bedroom wall. An enduring regret is that no photograph exists of that long lost wall. My friend, Arne Glimcher, went to art school but decided to become a dealer rather than an artist. He opened a small basement gallery on Newbury Street in Boston. My fascination with sculpture began there. Over the many decades since, I’ve kept a camera at hand when traveling--first with slides and film, then reluctantly with digital cameras, and ultimately even using a cell phone. This is not just to make images, but also because it made me a better noticer of light, shadow, forms, and the beautiful small scenes within the larger views.
In the 1990s I’d often drop in to SU’s foundry where Rodger Mack presided over our sculpture programs. One day I mentioned that he always seemed to be having tremendous fun, and he urged me to join the weekly sculpture workshop for non-majors. I agreed to do so for one term, to learn a bit about how sculpture is made and to become better able to appreciate it. I stayed for six years, until administrative changes at SU ended my access to the facility. By then I was well aware of how little I knew, and of what an extraordinary and masterful artist and teacher Rodger was. Just weeks before his untimely death, knowing his days were few, he was still putting heart and soul into mentoring his students in the foundry.
I made some pieces to explore working with different materials such as bronze, wood, and glass; I made some multiples with grandchildren in mind.
Arne remains a close friend. His little gallery left Newbury Street long ago, evolving into the Pace Gallery empire, with ten branches from Europe to China. I owe to him my continuing passion for the arts and am grateful to be able to say so here.
Some images appear here under themes that reveal how I think about them. Like all taxonomies, this is a decision about how to order the array; someone else might have done it differently. I’ve chosen Forms of Nature, Shadows, Water, Mysterious Scales, Wildlife, and a few people.
Forms of nature
The forms of nature are endlessly beautiful, at large and small scales.
In Plato’s cave, shadows were distinguished from reality. I see them as real shadows, with an intriguing beauty of their own.
Water is essential to life, lethal in excess, endlessly changing, central to Islamic architecture, always fascinating.
Scientific images typically include scales to enable viewers to know the size of what is being examined. I enjoy images that puzzle the viewer, who cannot tell whether the scene is very large or very small.
Creatures do things one does not typically see them doing. Catching even a few of those moments greatly rewards the vigilance it takes.
I rarely take images of people. Once in a while I see something irresistible, like a man near Oxford giving a house a haircut, Willy Humphrey playing his clarinet in Preservation Hall, or the desert analogue to Syracuse drivers stuck in snow.