Creating Art with a Scientific Perspective

Langley Anderson

Langley Anderson was in and out of art galleries while growing up. Born in New Orleans, she enjoyed meandering the eclectic city and believes her time in the galleries had a great influence on her art. She has an intense desire to be a professional artist and her passion is palpable. During her time at Radford University, Anderson said her greatest accomplishment is her art. “It is rewarding to see the work come to fruition. It is fun, creative expression. I get to show people stuff that I love,” she said.

Anderson is currently the only student in the MFA – Studio Art program at Radford University doing the tri-color gum bichromate process. It is a unique process where she finds specimens in her garden that are small but intricate, and she explores them with a microscope. “It’s like a whole other world,” she enthused. After, she sends digital black and white images to her computer and edits them in Photoshop. Finally, she layers colors on them. In her own words, “I am enlarging subjects I find in nature; little pieces of plants and insects. I digitally enhance them and then print them out. It is very rewarding when the process is over,” she said. To make her pieces unique and vibrant, Anderson uses color to differentiate her work from prints from a scientific microscope.

Anderson includes her artworks using the tri-color gum bichromate process in her thesis, which she titled Mutualism. “I have this theme of science and art. I am writing my thesis about the relationship between science and art,” she said. Anderson explained that we copy nature whether we mean to or not, but she believes she is creating art from nature using this unique process. “I am happy with it, but once I see other people who like it and appreciate my work, that is success,” she explained.

By her definition, Anderson is highly successful. Not only has she sold and received commissions for her works, she has also participated in several solo exhibitions on campus as well as in town through the Green Heron at River City Grille. Additionally, Anderson was selected to participate in numerous juried shows during her time in graduate school. She received a Graduate Award of Distinction in 2017 for her work in one of the Radford University’s shows. She has also had her work published for the past two years in Exit 109, Radford University’s literary and arts magazine. Most recently, Anderson was selected for one of her pieces to be published in Photographer’s Forum’s 2018 Best of College & High School Photography. With so many awards and accolades, it is easy to see why she was nominated by Dr. Roann Barris to be May’s Graduate Student of the Month.

Anderson’s desire for creative expression existed long before she began graduate school. Before coming to Radford University, she was a part-time K-8th grade art teacher and admitted that if she had not been accepted to the MFA program she would still be teaching - although, she said, she would probably not be creating art she is now. After graduation in May 2018, Anderson has dreams of starting her own art school and teaching art and photography at the university level. When asked why she wants to teach, she answered succinctly that, “I get to share what I am passionate about!”

Aside from her passion, Langley knows a thing or two about handling pressure. The studio art program is competitive and her tri-gum bichromate process is time-consuming, so she has a few tips to keep anxiety at bay. “There will be times you are very stressed and overwhelmed. It is normal. Feeling like you cannot succeed is normal. You will have failures. Often from those failings my coolest work comes out. Step back and take a break, but don’t give up. It is worth pushing through,” she said. Her favorite way to take a step back? “Getting a nap in when I can,” she laughed.


May 1, 2018
Penny Brooks
(540) 831-5179