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The Colors Of Clear

Research Open House 2024

Pieces of quartz are shown on a gray background.

Rebeca Acosta, Technician, Foundation Department
Eleanor King, Technical Director of Foundation

Megan Aebi, Director of Programs, Pratt STEM

Office of the Provost/Foundation

A woman points at printouts of images on a table while another person looks where she is pointing.
Rebeca Acosta with an attendee of the 2024 Research Open House. Photo Courtesy of Pratt Communications and Marketing.

The Colors of Clear is a research project by Rebeca Acosta (lead) in collaboration with Pratt Institute’s Foundations Lab, the STEAMplant initiative (MSci), the Foundation Department, Eleanor King (Technical Director of Foundation) and Megan Aebi (Director of Programs, Pratt STEM). The project focuses on how to make optical Microscopy more accessible. By creating a body of imagery and tools for students to utilize; participants can create optical effects based on the Michel-Levy interference color chart to observe the color output of translucent specimens, and understand what it means.

The Colors of Clear includes a new body of visual art by Rebeca Acosta, in creating images that  demonstrate what is possible to capture using polarized light microscopy. Her series of images guide viewers on light spectrums available through polarized lenses. Rebeca’s original high-resolution images of microscopic organisms and specimens display the properties of these colors which can only be seen and differentiated through bi-refringent analysis. The images featured include specimens of sand and water samples from different NYC environs including construction sites, “The Hole” neighborhood (a low-lying area between Brooklyn and Queens susceptible to regular flooding), Highland Park Reservoir, and Jamaica Bay Reserve. This diverse selection of samples represent the many different organisms found in the city and is meant to highlight that bi-refringence is everywhere.

The  Foundations Lab supports exploratory study informed by interdisciplinary engagement and the natural world. The Foundations Lab’s resources in Microscopy, including polarized lenses and a new microscope with high-resolution camera, expand our offerings related to color and light, as well as provide students and faculty with resources to see in a new way. The aim of the work is to make that which is invisible, visible and demystify the process of illumination of this spectrum of colors. With the microscopy Birefringence kits and accompanying imagery, a new world of color will be revealed.

Rebeca Acosta is a Latinx Brooklyn-based Metal/Interactive Sculptor/Artist and Educator originally from Dallas, Texas. She exhibited most recently at Brooklyn Metal Works and Washington State University. Beca is Foundation Technician at Pratt and instructor for the Consortium of Research and Robotics (now known as PRATT STEM). Previously, Beca was 3D Media Instructional Support Associate at SUNY Purchase School of Art and Design, Lead Metal Sculpture instructor for Snow Farm Summer, and Architectural Metal Fabricator for Kin & Company.

Pieces of quartz are shown on a gray background.
Infrared puddles are shown on a gray background.
Pieces of quartz are shown on a gray background.