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Conversations, Installations, Programs

Connecting Art, Science and Community

The daVinci Pursuit connects art, science and community, in order to cultivate interactive experiences and critical thinking among the general public in non-institutionalized settings. Art and science form the core of creativity and create a dynamic culture of thinkers and learners. The daVinci Pursuit was founded in order to bring science education and cultural enrichment closer to the public. The lens through which we look at our communities, reveals large and small institutions and programs dedicated to the arts, sciences, and community in isolation from one another. Few if any combined the three areas into a singular focused effort to improve the overall quality of life in our neighborhoods. Most institutions were building or campus-centric, which increased the barriers to access by the most challenged neighborhoods. What was missing, were places and events where individuals and families could experience art and science together while discovering the joy of learning, appreciating the beauty of their own neighborhood or connecting with others to create a stronger community. The daVinci Pursuit explores how artistic installations and programs can promote community engagement in science thinking, irrespective of wealth or privilege. We believe that neighborhoods themselves are learning environments that provide unique opportunities where individuals of varying cultures and backgrounds can explore art and science in a non-threatening environment, free from the expense, staffing and access issues presented by “building-centric” learning institutions. It is through this open exploration that people access their inner creativity and build the self-efficacy and self-confidence necessary to transform their... read more

Art Science Roundtable

The daVinci Pursuit has established a collaborative program to connect scientists, scientific content, and artists who will be performing and executing work at the grant sites. The process of bringing artists and scientists together in a collaborative environment, with the tools to strengthen interactions between the two fields, occurs monthly with additional bi-monthly status meetings to assess the progress being made toward a proposed solutions. As a part of the program assessment, daVinci Pursuit is evaluating how effectively science content is embedded into the art forms and how well art forms contribute to scientific inquiry and thought. This provides an iterative filter into which tools and techniques lead to healthy and productive engagement between artists and scientists. At the end of the grant cycle, the successful tools and frameworks for collaboration will be made available for replication outside the participants in this project through the design of an Art/Science Toolkit that could be used to create collaborations in other areas, fields and cities. Publications for the field will advance professional practice and increase understanding of the role of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). Join the discussion by emailing our Founder, Mark Kesling at:... read more

Spiritual Trail

The daVinci Pursuit envisioned the idea of a trail along the north side of Christian Theological Seminary’s property to connect the Butler community, local neighborhoods, IMA and Central Canal. During 2015, a more detailed design for the overall trail along with the various features, gardens, seating areas, art works, etc. that will be part of the trail will be completed in partnership with Green 3 and CTS. Additionally CTS will conduct outreach and programming initiatives with a variety of stakeholders to obtain information on the programs, facilities, and features that should be incorporated into the plan to encourage and support and maximum use of the site by the community. Activating this space is critical to connecting nearby communities to the campus and the tranquility and beauty it has to... read more

One Hundred Boats

Trees transform, shield, shade and provide oxygen, fruit, and beauty. Without trees, humans would not survive. Each tree has its own distinct, unique energy, as does each person. Trees and people together create a sense of place. Given the length of time trees live, they span multiple generations of a community and have stories to tell even after they cease to live. Working with artist Phillip Campbell, the daVinci Pursuit will utilize fallen iconic trees along each waterway to create artistic boat sculptures that reveal the stories each held during its life, stories of people, communities, beauty and nature. In cooperation with KIB and neighborhood leaders we will select those trees that have a special sense of place and transform them into one hundred... read more

daVinci Workshop

The daVinci Workshop is an initiative to create a museum/workspace where artists and scientists can come together to create installations using common physical and cultural components of society in a context of community space. We intend to use an existing building or set of buildings to allow artists and scientists access to shared equipment, tools, and creativity as they create public installations that combine art and science. The workshop will provide: A workshop for artists and scientists to collaborate, share ideas and expertise and create public installations for placement throughout the city. A space where the public can see artists and scientists working alongside one another and that allows them to discover how things are made, as well as view the tools and processes being used to create installations. A spawning ground for new works of art and science, creativity and collaborations that arise from community interactions and involvement in the process of... read more

daVinci Prize

The daVinci Pursuit was founded in order to bring science education and cultural enrichment closer to the public. As a group of concerned science and art educators, we are concerned about the decline of support for arts education in the academic setting, as well as the shortcomings in science education that leave most students turned off to science by the time they reach high school. What is clearly needed is a way to re-introduce this “missing audience” to art and science, and present outstanding examples of artists and/or scientists who embody the spirit of daVinci, exploring the world around us regardless of the discipline or area of study.   The daVinci Prize has been established as a means of acknowledging those who have made significant contributions in connecting the arts with science. The winners of the prize will have demonstrated the unique ability to see the world and their work through both the lens of the artists and scientist. The prize consists of an awards ceremony, a commemorative plaque and a $10,000 cash... read more


Kinetic artist, David Landis has created a giant metal and wood kinetic sculpture that will interact with the rhythms and flow of water in Indianapolis’ major rivers. The sculpture will create movements on the surface that mimic the current flow beneath the robot in a choreographed “dance” composed by the water. Passersby will delight in movement of the installation while discovering the hidden science of flow beneath the surface of the water. David states that the piece will serve as a base for a variety of above surface interactions through the use of simple machines and drivetrains. He envisions the installation as being able to be moved to different rivers to crate an element of “pursuit” and wonderment as to where the next one will... read more

Musical DNA

Building on the ground breaking App, Musical DNA provides a new way to fully discover and express your own musical creativity, enabling groups of individuals to play with music and sound in a more powerful way than ever before. The daVinci Pursuit has created a large-scale interactive installation that visually represents the functionality of the Musical DNA app in physical space. The sculpture itself consists of two pieces of plexiglass housing LED strips and any nec­essary wiring. The aluminum framing the plexiglass houses any extra wiring and connects the sculpture to the base platform. Users interact with plexiglass domes that trigger sounds and lights, thereby connecting the musical notes to create simple musical compositions. In order for people to create more complex chords, the installation requires the cooperation of tow or more... read more


Two Ka-Bike-O-Scopes will be installed in the spring of 2015 along Pleasant Run PArkway South Drive near the Barth street bridge between Fountain Square and Garfield Park. The Ka-Bike-O-Scope, designed by the artist/scientist team of Quincy Owens and Luke Crawley, is comprised of many interconnected structures, which will allow for group collaboration. In each structure, the color wheels are mounted in a glass‐encased overhang/roof that is supported at various heights approximately 12-15ft above the ground. The mechanism by which users can rotate the color wheels, include a stationary bicycle and hand crank mounted on and housed within the structural support. The primary physics principles the sculpture illustrates include: Mechanics – gearing, mechanical advantage Energy – energy conversion and transfer Light – color mixing, properties of light and... read more

Fallen Lighthouse

Imagine a lighthouse in Central Indiana. Where did it come from? How did it get here? Why has it fallen? What’s inside? The Fallen Lighthouse, designed and created by daVinci Founder, Mark Kesling and Architect, Cothran Harris, creates an iconic interactive space for the exploration of basic science principles in a whimsical and playful structure. The Fallen Lighthouse includes a 30 foot by 10 foot tall lighthouse lying on its side as well as an interior and exterior filled with interactive science apparatus designed to allow the Lighthouse to operate as a miniature science museum. Topics will include: Light and optics Sound Simple... read more


An important aspect of science is being able to see things from a new perspective. The concepts of “field of view” and “vista” come to mind as one walks along a waterway. When the field of view is narrowed (a fixed tube that people look through – sighting tube) or widened (a fixed frame – picture frame) things that might be missed do to the lack of focus, or the visual background noise in the environment, “pop” into view. These new views allow people to see things within the general landscape they might otherwise miss. For instance, hikers along a river might find sighting tubes focused on a particular spot of interest or passersby along a greenway trail might find a large picture frame putting into focus a beautiful waterfall. The low cost, simplicity and effectiveness of Create-A-Scape’ makes this installation particularly powerful and potentially... read more

Art Ports

To be installed in the Cultural Districts around Indianapolis, Art Ports will create new ways for “pop-up” art to occur, creating an ever changing and dynamic aesthetic landscape for artists. Throughout our city, artists find it difficult to place art tin public spaces due to a lack of a basic anchoring mechanism, access to power and a process that allows easy yet controlled permitting and planning. As we build new sidewalks, improve underground wiring and water supplies, create new ways for people to walk and bicycle, and encourage a healthier lifestyle we have the perfect opportunity to design and build the needed arts infrastructure as well. The daVinci Pursuit brought the best minds together from the fields of art, urban planning and design to think of ways to build a new physical infrastructure for the arts. The proposal includes: Common in-ground anchors – these would act like “space docking ports” for artists to create structures that could plug into the anchors thereby creating quick and easy installations throughout the city. Power posts – these could be located at key points to provide energy for powering interactive and kinetic sculptural pieces as well as small... read more


Following a Lilly Global Day of Service planning meeting, daVinci Pursuit Founder, Mark Kesling and IFD Fireman/Metal Sculptor, Clyde Pennington collaborated to bring science and art together through the creation of an interactive public sculpture near the Key Learning Community, Fire Station #19 and Lilly Technology Center in Indianapolis. The interactive sculpture serves four roles in this west side neighborhood: An IFD fire education outdoor classroom that allows students to learn about the roles of firefighters and fire safety. An outdoor playground and park that provides shade, a play area for small children and benches for quiet reflection. An outdoor classroom for schools including the Key Learning Community. As a gateway to the White River multi-use trail as well as to the adjoining neighborhood. The sculpture is a celebration of the creative and industrial spirit of the residents of this west side community and provides a park for neighborhood residents and others throughout the city, to learn about the science of firefighting through interaction with the arts. The massive steel and wood sculpture was installed by Lilly Employees during the Lilly Global Day of Service at 1003 South White River Parkway, West... read more

Tessellations of Life

Working with experts from the Indiana University School of Medicine (pathologists, cellular biologists, medical imaging professionals) and faculty from the Indiana School of Informatics (music informatics, artificial intelligence, visualization and animation, advanced computing) the daVinci Pursuit is designing new ways to explore 3D images from the field of medicine throughout the campus of the Indiana University School of Medicine. The team is exploring ways in which people can interact with their body gestures, including hand and eye motions, to manipulate and interact with 3D images projection mapped onto surfaces designed to simulate the actual body organ or system being viewed. These interactions will allow the casual visitor as well as the medical professional to discover new mysteries and gain new understanding of complex systems in casual museum gallery... read more

Artistic Scanner

daVinci Pursuit founder, Mark Kesling has created an interactive installation that captures the movement of people in order to create a visual and auditory soundscape. The installation encourages them to “dance” in a public setting without being aware that others are watching. The design simulates a modern airport full-body scanner in which people enter and interact with light and sound. The outside of the scanner has translucent panels that project a shadow image of the person inside the scanner to passersby. The artistic scanner uses dance, light, shadow and sound to create public... read more


“In some ways, an exhibit resembles a play or a musical composition. A tension is built up by something in the exhibit that elicits curiosity, or an interesting task, or a lovely effect, then the tension is resolved as the result of an aesthetic or intellectual payoff. If either component is missing, either the creation of tension or its release, the exhibit is unsatisfactory.” – Frank Oppenheimer When conceptualize things in our heads, they can seem to perfect with all the details working beautifully together. Then, we try building the idea and we discover the realities that our brains and experience were incapable of visualizing. Once we put ideas  in a more concrete form such as a visual medium like a piece of paper or construct a maquette, we see things that we couldn’t imagine. This process is called prototyping and is essential to the act of creation. The daVinci Pursuit helps artist and scientist collaborative efforts by finding funding for prototyping of ideas as well as connecting them to essential engineering and fabrication resources. There are faster ways to make things happen, but we believe in the creation of beautiful, effective, safe, and maintainable installations, that are only possible through a rigorous prototyping and review process.... read more

One Thousand Birdhouses

The daVinci Pursuit in collaboration with the Amos Butler Audubon Society, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and neighborhood school students will design and install birdhouses along the waterways throughout the city. The hole size and materials used are critical to the design but all other parameters are open for students to freely design the birdhouses. The daVinci Pursuit has worked out a suspension system of posts and cables in partnership with the City of Indianapolis that will allow the birdhouses to be safely and easily... read more

Mechanical Flowers

Based on simple robotic sensors coupled with the concept of biological collectives, the daVinci Pursuit is developing a set of tiny robotic flowers (Mechanical Flowers) that when placed in a waterway will measure and transmit data on water quality. The tiny robots can follow simple rules to automatically assemble themselves into a collective artificial intelligence capable of interacting with one another to provide a more complete picture of the ecology of the water. Each Mechanical Flower uses the natural flow of the water to move downstream, supplemented by a mechanism that allows each to move tangential to the flow. The Mechanical Flower uses its sensor array to capture water quality data and to track one another’s... read more

daVinci Sound Project

Professional harpist Melissa Gallant wanted to take her art form in new directions and expressed her desire to create new sounds and to develop new techniques in order to create an entirely new sound for the harp. Electronic musicians Michael Drews and Jordan Munson wanted to capture the sound of the harp in their work with creating new soundscapes. The daVinci Pursuit was able to connect these artists and scientists in new ways that led to several performances throughout the Indianapolis area. The daVinci Sound Project was born and has developed major acoustic works for use with the 2013 Row Port at the Indiana History Center, performances at the Chatterbox Jazz Club and at the Circle City Industrial Complex during the 2012 Super Bowl weekend. The group continues to explore new sounds and new ways to merge electronic and acoustic... read more

Arts & Science Challenges

We Challenge You… The daVinci Pursuit is partnering with other non-profits to create art science challenges that move beyond Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to add the Arts as an essential component. By creating STEAM challenges, the daVinci Pursuit allows for a much more diverse pool of learners and provides multiple entry points for science and technology education. Challenges currently under development include: Auto Racing Artistic Robots Floating... read more

Art-Science Curriculum Kits

Contribute The daVinci Pursuit is looking for interested teachers to help develop our art science curriculum kits as well as donors interested in funding a participating teacher. Please contact us if you would like to help at: We have adopted a new model for working with schools and teachers that allows us to provide sustainable K-12 science education efforts. Teachers will create curriculum to be shared with others, participate in professional development and be awarded a kit of materials to support their work. The kits remain the property of the teacher and not the school or district, insuring that they will continue to be used effectively. Kits under development include: Amusement Parks – construction of amusement park rides based on basic physics and design principles. Bridges – spans, arches, triangles, suspensions and design combine in this interactive building kit. Constructions – an early childhood unit involving the construction of everyday objects. Electronic Fashions – the art and science of design with fabrics and electronics. Food Orchestra – what happens when food combines with electronics to make music? Geofaces – architectural projections, object construction and mathematics combined. Kaleidoscopic Hues – light, optics, color and nature through a tube. Smart Cars – the art and science of auto racing: combining artificial intelligence, physical gaming, and speed. Sound Objects – learn the physics of sound while creating artistic compositions from simple everyday... read more