Columbia University in the City of New York

Ivan Forde

Ivan Forde in front of the artwork at 129th St and Broadway (Credit: Paula Croxson/Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute).



As you walk by the Education Lab on 129th St. between Broadway and Riverside Drive, you may notice two brightly colored, transparent panels filling the windows. Stop and look more closely, and you’ll start to identify some familiar shapes: an eye, a hand -- and some that may be less familiar: scientific symbols, a cross section through a human brain.

This is the work of Ivan Forde, a Guyanese-born, Harlem-raised photographer and printmaker. In the summer and fall of 2019, Forde spent time with scientists from the Zuckerman Institute including Raphael Gerraty, Ray Lee, Long Luu and Barbara Noro. Forde participated in experiments tracking his eye movements, received an MRI scan of his brain, explored conversations about the brain and body, and visualized his own hair and skin through the BioBus microscopes in the Education Lab. Through this process, Forde found himself becoming more aware of the connection between art and science.

Above: Checking the placement of the artwork during installation (Credit: Paula Croxson/Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute).

"The process was very interesting because it included a lot of conversations with scientists in the Zuckerman building; in the labs here. For the first time, I really got to see what an active lab looks like, feels like, and smells like, in some cases,” Forde reflected. “I think that my process is very research-driven, and I think that there is a sort of understanding that I have between science and art that’s much deeper than before."

Above: The artist viewing the two panels from outside the Education Lab (Credit: Paula Croxson/Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute).

Forde created the two colorful, transparent panels by screen printing onto acrylic vinyl. The overall effect is intended to be similar to stained glass, allowing light into the space tinted by the colors on the vinyl. The work’s transparency maintains a sight line from the street into the Education Lab and is designed to spark curiosity to passersby as well as inspire the students, teachers, and curious learners working inside.

Even though you may not be able to come and visit the Education Lab right now, you can still enjoy images of the work and its process of creation here, or by walking past the Jerome L. Greene building on 129th Street. And check out our interview with Ivan Forde to see more of the art work and hear about its creation.

You can also see Ivan Forde’s artwork around the city through the Public Art Fund program Art on the Grid.

Above: Guests at the opening, November 2019 (Credit: Paula Croxson/Columbia University's Zuckerman Institute).

Above: Holograph no.1 (wisdom eye), Holograph no.2 (Timehri: mark of the hand), Ivan Forde (b. 1990) Silkscreen print on transparent holographic vinyl film and plexiglass (Credit: Paula Croxson/Columbia University's Zuckerman Institute).

Video Featuring Ivan Forde