10:15 AM

STEM + Art = STEAM Lab Art Installation Displayed in Doherty Library


An art installation of cranes, created by Evalyn Navarro '26 titled,  In Flight to Greater Things was created in recognition of the 200th anniversary of the Basilian Fathers, the 75th anniversary of the University of St. Thomas, and the 50th anniversary of the Doherty Library. The piece contains 325 folded origami cranes to celebrate the university’s past as well as its future. 

Crane installation in Doherty Library

Associate Biology Professor Shivas Amin developed the STEAM Lab (STEM + Art) initiative to encourage and empower students to create artwork that intersects with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The Lab currently supports a wide range of projects, including 3D printing, digital artwork and origami. The projects are student-inspired and driven, and the designs make a meaningful social or societal impact.

Crane Installation Celebrates Basilian Fathers, UST & Doherty Library

A current project developed by first-year biology student Evalyn Navarro involves the production of a large origami installation. Navarro is a big advocate of the origami discipline.

The cranes are suspended from a tapestry hanger rod. The installation is located in Doherty Library, and Amin sponsored the installation. This work is in recognition of the 200th anniversary of the Basilian Fathers, the 75th anniversary of the University of St. Thomas, and the 50th anniversary of the Doherty Library.

·         Two hundred white cranes surround 75 red and gold cranes. Miniature patterned cranes in the center symbolize the four values of the university: goodness, discipline, knowledge and community.

·         Fifty silver cranes commemorate Doherty Library’s 50 years of service in the quest of knowledge, faith, and reason.

·         Gold lion heads support the entire installation and celebrate Lenny the UST mascot.

The crane is considered a holy bird in many cultures and represents longevity, peace and health. Bamboo was selected for its durability, sustainability and good fortune.

Purpose behind the STEAM Lab

“The purpose behind the STEAM lab is to encourage our students to utilize their imagination as they learn,” Amin said. “Many young students incorrectly assume that ‘learning’ and ‘memorization’ are equivalent. In truth, most information that is memorized is easily lost and provides no benefit to the learner. In contrast, productive learning requires that the learner form a deep understanding of the information.  

“To achieve this deeper understanding,” Amin continues, “a learner must translate the words in their textbook to a functional picture in their mind. As they continue to learn, the picture is steadily modified to help the individual integrate new information. This process requires a very strong and active imagination. Unfortunately, modern society is putting less emphasis on the arts in order to focus on technical information. This process is effectively coaching the imagination out of our students and having the unintended effect of weakening our learners. The STEAM lab seeks to reverse this trend by reengaging our students’ imaginations so they can reach their true potential.”

 Evalyn Navarro Navarro Sees Potential of Marrying Science and Art

Navarro saw the potential of marrying science and Art when she learned that NASA used origami to design Starshade, which blocks starlight allowing the James Webb telescope's camera to capture images of planets.

"The size of this device is larger than a rocket, and scientists had to construct a design allowing the device to fold into a smaller shape and unfold in space," Navarro said. “Origami experts contributed advice toward the design of the Starshade.”

The young scientist and artist has come to understand that math is a necessary component of origami, which explains how a set of folds yields the product. She sees how Art and science work together.

She explained, "Biology is the study of life, art, and science working together to create living organisms that organize in intricate ways to support the diversity of life on Earth.

"I want to merge my passion for aerospace, medicine and origami in the future," Navarro said. "I want to do medicine in aerospace and bring origami into the field. Medicine is a discipline with many opportunities for growth and change."

The lab is not exclusive to STEM Students. Become a Supporter

As the STEAM Lab continues to gather steam, Amin is looking for future members and supporters.

"The Lab is not exclusive to STEM students and has room for any individual seeking to produce meaningful artwork that intersects with STEM disciplines," he said. "Even individuals without innate artistic talent are welcome, as we have an incredibly supportive community excited to share and teach their abilities." 

If you are a student or UST community member interested in participating in or supporting the STEAM lab, contact Dr. Amin (amins@stthom.edu). He is eager to grow the STEAM community and provide maximum opportunity for all students to participate in the development of creative artwork.