#SoCaltech: Jim Barry


“The nice thing about teaching art here is that I've had the chance to get to know many creative scientists and engineers. I've been here for over 30 years, and what's been consistent throughout has been the openness between departments and the openness of labs. People will invite me to visit their labs and learn more about the science of everything from gravitational waves in space to the geology of rivers. When I retired from teaching art full time at Polytechnic School in Pasadena a few years ago, I wanted to start doing more of my own art projects about Caltech work, so that's when I went to see some old friends from LIGO and got an idea of what was going on there. I created a large silk painting of the LIGO detectors and all sorts of related scenes, including ancient observatories, noise from earthquakes, and the ghost of a leftover charge from a specialized mirror cleaner. Now that I've finished that, I want to dive into the ideas of quantum computing and look into new ways of depicting the subatomic world." 

Jim Barry joined Caltech more than 30 years ago after studying anthropology and working as a painter in West Africa. He is Caltech's drawing, painting, and silkscreen art director in Performing and Visual Arts.

#SoCaltech is an occasional series celebrating the diverse individuals who give Caltech its spirit of excellence, ambition, and ingenuity. Know someone we should profile? Send nominations to magazine@caltech.edu.