In March 2020, Georgia Schwender, Fermilab visual arts coordinator, along with artists Eric Coles and Martin Murphy, spent hours in the Wilson Hall Art Gallery, hanging what would eventually become the longest-running art exhibit in the history of the Fermilab art gallery.
The show, titled “Imaging the Cosmos: Astro Photography and Landscapes by Dr. Eric Coles & Martin Murphy,” was originally scheduled for a three-month viewing. A day later, then Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer informed employees and the public that the entire Batavia site would be closed to all but essential employees as Illinois, and the rest of the country began to lock-down. The show’s opening night was canceled less than 24 hours after the last picture was fixed to the wall.
As employees have returned to Wilson Hall, they have been greeted by Coles’ stunning images of distant nebula star clusters and galaxies and Murphy’s various night-sky themed landscapes.
Now the show, located on the second floor of Wilson Hall, closes on Sept. 30, 2022. Laboratory employees are encouraged to view it before it comes down.
Coles is a biochemist, entrepreneur and self-taught astronomer. He has held research positions with Harvard and Columbia medical schools, in addition to founding Alexon Biomedical and Xickle LLC.
He developed his interest in astronomy and his astrophotography skillset a decade ago. His work has been featured as NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD.NASA.gov) a dozen times since 2015. The images reveal stunningly detailed, colorful views of planetary nebula, distant galaxies and star clusters. Each one is the result of hours of observing time and processing.
Murphy has worked at Fermilab for more than 25 years and currently is an engineering physicist in the Main Injector accelerator department. Previously he worked in accelerator operations and with the Dark Energy Survey. With DES, he processed images and was an observer. He played a role in a previous art gallery show, titled “The Art of Darkness: Images from the Dark Energy Survey.” His work in this show features landscape astrophotography, close-up images of the Moon, time-lapse images of solar events and more.