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Sanford Underground Research Facility seeks applications from artists for 2021 residency
Erin Lorraine Broberg

The Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) is partnering with Black Hills State University (BHSU) to continue the Artist-in-Residence (AiR) program, which was implemented in 2019. Gina Gibson, BHSU professor of graphic communication and SURF’s first artist in residence, will serve as the principle coordinator of the program starting this fall.

“The first year of the SURF AiR program was an incredible success,” said Mike Headley, executive director of Sanford Lab. “We’re so pleased that BHSU’s Professor Gina Gibson will serve as the new SURF AiR Coordinator, and we’re excited to select a new artist for the second year of the SURF AiR program.”

Artist-in-residence programs are used as a tool to create awareness and encourage interdisciplinary work. The purpose of the SURF AiR program is to invite artists to create work inspired by SURF.

“BHSU is honored and delighted to continue its strategic partnership with SURF through the Artist-in-Residence Program,” said Priscilla Romkema, provost and vice president for academic affairs at BHSU. “We look forward to seeing the impact of this unique program that will be guided by the leadership of Professor Gibson and those with whom she is working at the Sanford Lab.”

SURF’s location, legacy and research make it an ideal place for creative work. SURF is the deepest underground laboratory in the United States, reaching a mile below the surface. It houses experiments in physics, biology, geology and engineering.

In the summer, a selected artist will immerse themselves in the facility’s unique environment and cutting-edge research, visiting SURF’s surface and underground spaces. The artist will then create a body of art for an exhibit in the fall.

A multimedia artist, Gibson was Sanford Lab’s first-ever artist in residence in 2019. In 2020, she presented her virtual art exhibit during Sanford Lab’s Neutrino Day event. Her pieces, which can be viewed online, creatively explored the unique research, legacy and community of SURF. Now, as the program coordinator, Gibson looks forward to creating similar experiences for future artists, while promoting awareness about science at SURF.

“I keep going back to the word curiosity,” Gibson said. “Whether you’re an artist, a physicist or an engineer, its intimidating to walk into an unfamiliar situation. But a residency at a science facility forces an artist to interact with the unfamiliar. It’s rejuvenating. It’s exhilarating. And it can be a lifeforce in your artwork.”

Applications for the 2021 residency are open. For more information or to apply for the program, visit the SURF AiR webpage.