Reedsburg native Kevin Jordan spent the past forty years of his life as a full time scientist and is looking to inspire creativity in others with his new passion for art.
For the past four years, Jordan and his business partner of 30 years, Dr. George Neil, have shown interactive kinetic art pieces at Burning Man and the Toronto Light Festival. Both are displaying their artwork a little closer to where Jordan grew up.
Neil and Jordan’s latest piece, Double Helix II, is displaying at the GLEAM Art in a New Light annual public art exhibit on the great lawn of the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison until Oct. 26. The piece is a 90-foot long wave machine made out of steel, wire rope, half-inch electrical conduit with wiffle balls on each end and looks like a strand of DNA.
The mechanism is powered by hand through a pulley system to produce wave like motions. Jordan said he’s excited to showcase the piece closer to his hometown so former classmates and family can see his work in person.
Jordan graduated from Webb High School in 1975 and Madison Area Technical College in 1977. While he was interested in electronics during his time in Reedsburg, he didn’t have much of an interest in art. After Neil attended the Burning Man Festival in Nevada, he asked Jordan to collaborate on a piece of interactive art to show case there. The duo constructed a cosmic ray detector to display at Burning Man three years ago.
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Jordan said he uses the same creativity in his artwork in his job as an electrical engineer and has worked in accelerator physics for the past 40 years. Thirty-two have been spent at Jefferson Lab in Virginia. One of his accomplishments is becoming one of three founding partners of BNNT LLC, a material science company that synthesizes boron nitride nanotubes, and developing a Free Electron Laser for the US Navy, he said.
Jordan said he creates the artwork to show the creative side of physics and engineering. The other reason is to see people’s positive reaction when they interact with the system and to inspire young children in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math related activities.
“It’s a toy. We built a big toy for people to play with,” Jordan said of Double Helix. “By playing with toys you can be inspired (to do) anything creative.”
After GLEAM, Jordan said him and Neil plan to attend the South by Southwest Conference and Festival in next March to show Double Helix II. Jordan said they want to take Double Helix II to other international shows, like Berlin, Germany and Sydney Australia.
More information on Neil and Jordan’s art work is on www.doublehelixart.com.