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Installation and sculpture artist Gary Sczerbaniewicz will create a body of work inspired by the Sanford Underground Research Facility


LEAD, SD — The Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) has selected installation and sculpture artist Gary Sczerbaniewicz as the 2022 SURF Artist-in-Residence (AiR).

Based in Buffalo, New York, Sczerbaniewicz’s work explores architectural spaces that evoke a sense of psychological unease, what he refers to as “the architectural uncanny.” Sczerbaniewicz borrows techniques from architecture, installation, sculpture and theatrical stagecraft to create full-sized structures into which the viewer is invited to physically enter and explore.

“Gary’s work is fascinating,” said Gina Gibson, coordinator of the SURF AiR program. “I can only imagine how the physical spaces and the innovative science at SURF will inspire him, and I can hardly wait to see what he creates as the 2022 SURF AiR.” 

This summer, Sczerbaniewicz will complete an intensive four-week residency at SURF, visiting the surface and underground spaces of this unique facility and exploring the scientific concepts being researched. These experiences will inspire a body of work that will culminate in a public exhibition and outreach presentation in the fall of 2022.

“At SURF, science is happening in an underground environment with this rich history and tradition,” Sczerbaniewicz said. “I will be immersed in the confines of this space, learning the nature of these scientific experiments and deriving artwork specifically based on that experience. When all these factors come together, it will be very a generative sort of exposure for me.”

As a young child, Sczerbaniewicz remembers being spellbound by Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” television series. Today, cameos of Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Neil Armstrong show up throughout his portfolio. Sczerbaniewicz says he is intrigued by the “historic tensions between mainstream scientific inquiry and the murky realms of fringe culture.”

During his residency, Sczerbaniewicz will explore the ongoing research into neutrinos, dark matter, astrophysics, extremophiles and geology at SURF.

“For artists, the concepts like dark matter are intriguing because it’s both seen and unseen, known and unknown,” Sczerbaniewicz said. “There’s an interface between those things that are confirmable by our senses and the things that require further extraction by other means in order to prove that they're there. And that's fascinating to me. Dark matter, both as an actual study and as a metaphor, is ripe with the possibility of artistic interpretation.”

SURF will select one piece from the exhibit to become part of the SURF AiR’s permanent collection, which will grow by one piece with each visiting artist.

In its third year, the SURF AiR program’s call for artists received an overwhelming response.

“We had 19 applications, three international applicants, a few from South Dakota and several from all over the country,” Gibson said. “This program is reaching the international art community.”  

For more information, visit the SURF AiR program webpage.

Sanford Underground Research Facility is operated by the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) with funding from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Our mission is to advance world class science and inspire learning across generations. Visit SURF at

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Constance Walter
Communications Director
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