ULM, public library join for art exhibition

Cherie Mialaret

The idea of biology students creating an art exhibit might sound strange. But to Timothy McMahan, colorful paintings of neurons and muscle tissue are very familiar.

The Sterlington Memorial Branch of the Ouachita Parish Public Library hosted an art reception on Thursday, March 2 for ULM’s Drawn to Biology exhibition. 

McMahan was part of the first class to participate in Drawn to Biology when it started in 2017. Six years later, he returned to see another class’s projects on display in the library. 

“It’s cool to see some little assignment turned into an actual exhibit,” McMahan said.   

Drawn to Biology features pieces by Biology 4022 students, created under the guidance of art students. Biology professor Kim Tolson, associate biology professor Allison Weidemeier and associate art professor Cliff Tresner are the minds behind the collaboration. They started the project in hopes of increasing the confidence of histology students, who are frequently required to sketch tissue structures.  

Since its start, Drawn to Biology has been featured at ULM’s Museum of Natural History. However, this is the first time the exhibition has been displayed at the Ouachita Parish Public Library. The manager of the Sterlington Memorial Branch, Clair Roane, is herself a former student of Tolson. They reconnected at another ULM event and started talking about Drawn to Biology.  

“I loved the project and wanted to bring it to the library,” Roane said.  

Tolson agreed. “The public library is the perfect place for an art exhibit,” Tolson said. “People of all ages and all walks of life visit the public library. Some may have never been to the ULM campus.” 

Thursday night’s reception certainly saw more than ULM faculty and students. Library patrons visiting the Sterlington Memorial Branch came over to admire the paintings. Staff from other branches visited. McMahan brought his young son.  

“When you think about it, ULM and the Ouachita Parish Public Library have a lot in common,” Tolson said. “We are both in the business of inspiring learning. This was a natural collaboration, and I hope that it continues in the future.”