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The science of art

Fermilab's photo club members showcasing work in first juried exhibition

Steve Krave's "Experiments Past" will be one of the photos featured in the Fermilab 
Art Gallery's "Fermilab Examined," a juried exhibition by members of the Fermilab 
Photography Club, running from Nov. 18 through Jan. 26 in Batavia.
Steve Krave's "Experiments Past" will be one of the photos featured in the Fermilab Art Gallery's "Fermilab Examined," a juried exhibition by members of the Fermilab Photography Club, running from Nov. 18 through Jan. 26 in Batavia.

BATAVIA – Fermilab’s Wilson Hall gets its name from the late Robert R. Wilson, an American physicist most notably known for creating the National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia in the ’60s. A lesser known fact about Wilson is that he also dabbled in the arts, leaving his aesthetic stamp on the area through sculpture and architecture.

In an upcoming Fermilab Art Gallery exhibition, the Fermilab Photography Club will present a 53-piece display of images showcasing Wilson’s creative imprint on the area, as well as the beauty of the laboratory grounds.

“I think it’s nice that the subject of the show is Fermilab, so all the pictures that will be displayed will be something taken on site,” said Martin Murphy, a Fermilab operations specialist and photo club member. “ ... It’s all the things that people who work here or come on site regularly will recognize ... but will see from a little different perspective than they normally do.”

The juried exhibit, entitled “Fermilab Examined,” will feature 17 photo-club members’ works, which will include landscapes, night-scapes, portraits, wildlife, nature, architecture and abstracts, to name a few.

Georgia Schwender of Geneva, the gallery’s visual arts coordinator and an art committee volunteer who helped jury the exhibit, said she believes in the talent of the photo club and its members.

“I knew they could put on a terrific show given the opportunity to exhibit in an art gallery,” said Schwender. “... It’s a really interesting photo club because there are scientists and really interesting people here.”

The roughly 60-member club, which is made up of Fermilab employees, retirees and employees’ immediate family members, has been around for about three years. The abilities of its members range from beginners to Fermilab’s on-staff professional photographers.

“I think there are a lot of [employees] at the lab, who aren’t aware of the photo club’s existence; and there are a lot of really bright, talented photographers here,” Murphy said, adding that the range of utilized photo-processing techniques runs the gamut from “turn-of-the-century” processes used in the 1800s to digital photo-manipulation.

Exhibiting photo club member Elliott McCrory is a Fermilab applied scientist, who said that – in addition to having a full-time job – he dedicates about 12 hours to photography each week.

McCrory owes his passion for photography to his father, who introduced him to his first camera – a Leica – when he was 7 years old.

“My father wasn’t a photographer, but he took a lot of really nice pictures; I wanted to be like my dad, I guess,” McCrory said, adding that he still has his father’s Leica camera, which he has cherished since his father’s death. “The [camera’s] leather strap still smells like his cologne.”

Murphy, who has his own dark room, said he’s always had a penchant for the visual arts.

“I drew a lot when I was a kid ... so, [photography] just kind of came naturally,” he said. “I never liked reading; I always liked looking at pictures.”

Murphy said he hopes the exhibition will spur curiosity among his colleagues, as well as the public, and that more people will then visit Fermilab.

“It’s a beautiful landscape to be in, and I think it’s underutilized by the public,” he said, adding that having a check point is probably what deters the public from visiting. “It’s kind of a jewel that no one really knows about.”

To visit Fermilab, visitors need to provide a driver’s license or valid form of identification and a destination, which could be something as simple as going for a walk on the path, Murphy said.

The art gallery, however, is only open to the public by appointment, during artist receptions and before or after performances and artist lecture series events.

The club’s inaugural juried exhibition will run from Monday, Nov. 18, through Sunday Jan. 26 in the Fermilab Art Gallery at Wilson Hall, located at Kirk Road and Pine Street in Batavia.  To make a viewing appointment, contact Schwender at or 630-840-6825.

There also will be an artist reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, at the gallery. The event is free and open to the public (no appointment necessary) and will include wine and hors d’oeuvres.

To view photos taken by the Fermilab Photo Club, visit

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