Castrucci Gallery

Mineral

The Castrucci Gallery and ground floor display areas were provided through the generosity of Margaret and Paul Castrucci, '56.

The inaugural exhibition in the Castrucci Gallery focuses on minerals in their natural form and as used in fabrication.

Perhaps most startling are the thin slices of rock made up of mineral crystals. These were photographed in high magnification under cross-polarized light and are shown here as backlighted transparencies resembling stained glass windows.  Their brilliant colors would not be seen with the unaided eye, but are an artifact of the technique used to photograph them.  The sources of the minerals are even more unexpected than their appearance; the specimens come from western Massachusetts, Greenland and the Moon.

The shimmering disc is a silicon wafer, covered with integrated circuits fabricated on a highly pure crystalline silicon base.  The ubiquity of electronic devices has made silicon arguably the most important technological material of our time.

The tentacled coral-like structure is a vein of native copper.  Copper, like gold, can occur in nature in a fairly pure state.  It is remarkable to consider this muscular form before it was unearthed, encased in the ground.

The work-on-paper Contingency, 1990, by artist Dove Bradshaw is a meditation on the physical properties of natural materials and the limitations to our knowledge of how they will interact.  Liver of sulphur was applied to aluminum and silver leaf and the artist allowed chance to play a role in the appearance that evolved.

The black and white photograph is of a tiny shred of steel, magnified 325 times its actual size.  The image was obtained using Union College’s scanning electron microscope.  Minerals like magnetite (Fe3O4, from which iron is often extracted) and manganese are vital to the production of steel.  The source of the specimen?  The metal shaving was a byproduct of constructing the magnificent Peter Irving Wold Center.

Adrienne Klein, Guest Curator