Detail from "The Faces of Science"

The Faces of Science

Roberto L. Delgado
1999
Acrylic polymer on fiberglass mesh

The Artwork

The Faces of Science is a four-part mural composed of multiple layers of imagery based on past, present, and future scientific research, reflecting the work taking place in the Fort Interdisciplinary Research Center (IRC). Depicted in the mural are 46 portraits of astronauts, chemists, engineers, physicians, physicists, and numerous other pioneers in science.  It is located on the fourth floor of the IRC.

Predominantly representing African-Americans, the portraits include George Washington Carver, botanist and chemist; N.C. A&T State University alumnus Ronald McNair, astronaut and physicist; and Mae C. Jemison, M.D., astronaut. The portraits are juxtaposed with abstract images taken from a variety of sources, such as scientific equipment, research photographs, and ancient star tracking systems. The images include the numerical simulation of hydrogen bubbles, the Toltec-Aztec symbol for movement, shock wave patterns, a Dogon West African sand painting of the orbit of a star, and details from the control panel of a NASA space shuttle.

Key to portraits

Mural Panel 1 (closer panel facing elevators)

  • James Andrew Harris, Nuclear Chemist
  • Granville T. Woods, Inventor
  • Mae C. Jemsion, M.D., Astronaut
  • Bryant W. York, Engineer
  • Charles Henry Turner, Zoologist
  • Sarah Breedlove Walker, Inventor
  • Ida Stephens Owens, Biochemist
  • Walter Eugene Massey, Physicist
  • Lloyd Augustus Hall, Chemist
  • Franklin R. Chang-Diaz, Astronaut
  • Ronald McNair, Physicist and Astronaut, N.C. A&T, Class of 1971

Mural Panel 2 (back of panel facing elevators)

  • George Washington Carver, Chemurgist
  • Frederick McDonald Massiah, Engineer
  • Roscoe Giles, Engineer
  • Daniel Hale Williams, M.D., Surgeon
  • Dorothy McClendon, Microbiologist
  • Vivien Theodore Thomas, Surgical Technician
  • Evelyn Boyd Granville, Mathematician
  • Lloyd S. Degrade, M.D., Physician
  • Frederick Gregory, Astronaut
  • Percy A. Pierre, Mathematician
  • Moddie Daniel Taylor, Chemist
  • James Ellis Lu Valle, Chemist

Mural Panel 3 (panel across the atrium, facing the elevators)

  • Meredith G. Gourdine, Physicist
  • Percy Lavon Julian, Chemist
  • Katherine G. Johnson, Physicist
  • Roscoe L. Koontz, Health Physicist
  • Mary Sylvester Deconge, Mathematician
  • Edward Marion Augustus Chandler, Chemist
  • Ruth Ella Moore, Bacteriologist
  • Ernest Everett Just, Zoologist
  • Warren Washington, Meteorologist
  • Scott Warner Williams, Mathematician
  • Dwight Davis, M.D., Heart Specialist
  • Augustus Nathaniel Lushington, D.V.M., Veterinarian
  • Samuel Lee Kountz, Jr., M.D., Kidney Specialist

Mural Panel 4 (panel facing conference rooms)

  • Harold Eugene Finley, Parasitologist
  • Edward Alexander Bouchet, Physicist
  • Albert Cornelius Antoine, Organic Chemist
  • Herman Branson, Physicist
  • June Bacon-Bercey, Meteorologist
  • Charles Richard Drew, M.D., Physician
  • Mary Styles Harris, Biologist
  • Herman Glenn Cooke, Entomologist
  • E. Luther Brookes, Chemist
  • Campbell C. Johnson, Engineer
  • St. Elmo Brady, Chemist

Key to Background Graphics

Mural Panel 1

  • Center area shows a detail of a gyrocompass position indicator from the control panel of a NASA shuttle. To the left is a Dogon West African sand painting of the orbit of star Sirius B. To the right is a modern astronomical drawing of the same orbit. Flanking these on the left and right are hands. Thematically, these elements represent the idea of time between the two Sirius B graphics, space as shown with the position indicator, and the hands as the users of tools.

Mural Panel 2

  • Center area is the "Olin," the Toltec-Aztec symbol for movement taken from a flat stamp in the Mexico City area, circa 1100 B.C.E.  Flanking this is an adaptive grid showing shock wave patterns at M10 flowing over an obstacle. Thematically, the "Olin" and the wave patterns carry the idea of movement in the mural.

Mural Panels 3 and 4

  • Langley numerical simulation of hydrogen bubbles in transition of the air flow from laminar to turbulent.

The Artist

Roberto Delgado attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and has an M.F.A. from the University of California in Los Angeles. He has received two Fulbright Fellowships, a Brody Arts Foundation Grant, and a Ford Foundation Fellowship.  He has completed numerous public art commissions, including works for Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta; the Federal Courthouse in Pocatello, Idaho; the Cleveland Regional Transportation Authority and Gateway Sports Complex in Cleveland; and murals in Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. His paintings and drawings have been exhibited in galleries in Costa Rica, France, Germany, Mexico, Scotland, and South Africa.  He lives in Los Angeles.

The Selection Process

This artwork was commissioned after a nationwide competition, announced in the summer of 1996. Fourteen artists applied for the project.  A two-tier selection process was used to review the applications.   It included representatives of the university, the building’s architect, and art advisors, with the final decision made by the Artworks for State Buildings Committee.