WHEN VINCE PANE was visiting schools before deciding on a PhD program, he made a point to visit the museums at each of these places. By then, Vince had been exploring his artistic side for a while, dwelling mainly on clothing design and woodwork (during his college years, he carved a boat sunk by an octopus entirely out of wood). At the time of his visit, The Anderson was holding a Nick Cave exhibition. Pane became fascinated by the thin, long hair some of the sculptures were made out of.

Vince now studies Chemistry here at Stanford, while pursuing other artistic endeavors, although he refuses to think of science and art as mutually exclusive. When he recently crafted his design for the Anderson et La Mode event, Cave became an inspiration and a reference point. For this project, Vince collected ties from all over the Bay Area to create a jacket inspired by Nathan Oliveira’s Nude in Environment I, which was selected to be brought to life and displayed at Anderson et La Mode.

PULSE Magazine: What’s your favorite place on campus?

Vincent Pane: I actually climb on to my roof sometimes and I’m in a twelve-storey high rise in the grad housing so it has a pretty nice view of the area.

[I go there] about once a week, but if I’m using wood finishes for a piece, I’ll put it there, because nobody goes there. Other than that, I like hanging out by the Gates of Hell – it’s really cool.

P: What do you care about, what’s important to you?

VP: I don’t know if it’s a “running from yourself” feeling…but finding something that will just help me get lost in myself.

If you’re gonna be very general – which I feel like as a scientist that is what you’re looking for, generalization which you can apply to everything – it would be…searching for something that will help you lose yourself.

You’re not actively thinking about yourself if you’re talking to people or if you’re doing something you love. But if you’re doing something you don’t like, you’re constantly sitting there being like “Oh gosh I don’t wanna be here, or no, I need to keep writing this paper..” I like to escape that feeling. That’s inherent for all things we love, I guess….

P: What came first, art or science?

VP: I feel like they’re the one and the same and I don’t think they’re treated as such anymore. I mean we still call “Arts and Sciences” as a department and then there’s a History department or whatever. So I don’t know how they got separated to begin with, but I feel like there’s a similar sense of aesthetic beauty to science and art. You’re looking for some sort of perfection based on a set of constraints.

P:  How do you see your scientific background translate into your work?

VP: If you’re in a lab with a bunch of scientists, they base their jokes around science, they base their analogies around science, just like I assume athletes would base their analogies around athletics…

Science is really rich in its perspectives because if you were trying to get a good image of what an atom looks like… since you can’t take an image of an atom, you have to think of clever ways to realize what it looks like.

In the same way,  a photographer can take a picture of something blurry as a means of showing a different perspective, or any art that relies on changing perspectives from the norm.

Everyone needs to change their perspective to be able to do anything. So talking to a bunch of scientists that make their jokes like this and their analogies like this, just opens your mind a little more to creative ideas, even though some scientists don’t necessarily consider themselves creative. I think that’s because we’ve started to box off art and science. I think there are very similar creativities. They just aren’t choosing to consider them as such.

P: So let’s talk a little bit more about your design…

VP:  I went to a NASA conference and one of the main guys was in a blazer with jeans and it just looked kinda awkward. And then one of the NASA guys there gave him his tie actually, [as an] end gift, like “Nice job, here’s a tie, make sure you wear a tie next time that you give a conference.” [Laughs]

So that stood out to me. That happened literally two weeks before this project. It’s just interesting that something so bright is ok to wear with a suit – but then people still don’t really embody the brightness of that tie when they wear a suit. So I thought it would be interesting to make a similar-ish style jacket to a suit jacket but make it more lively with the whole tie perspective.

[Drawing from Nick Cave’s art]– he had to get this hair from so many different people and from so many different backgrounds. I went down to San Luis Obispo and near the southern area, the Sierra Nevadas, past Bakersfield, so I picked up a tie at a couple of the cities there, and at Gilroy….Just to get a variety of styles.

They’re all from thrift stores, so I assume they were used in some fashion. It’s dark blues and purples and yellows. And you can tell this is either a business-y tie or it looks like it would be used for Easter or something. Like a church tie.

I spent that first weekend we had, the whole entire weekend, driving around the Bay Area. So I stopped at thirty something thrift shops and in at least one in every county that touches the Bay – just to try to get a representation of the Bay Area.

And I think I got 93 ties total so far. But they’re made in Thailand, Korea, China, Italy, Europe…England, Scotland, US, France…just lots of variety. And mainly the silk was from China or Italy. And it’s just crazy to see…it spreads out to all over the world. And everyone from every culture has worn one of these ties, you would assume. I slept somewhere way out in the bay, in my car, to maximize my time.

P: Do you have a favorite piece at the museums at Stanford?

VP: Oh, it would probably be The Gates of Hell. Too many pieces of art are made to just stand on their own and this one is just so many things that could stand on their own put into one piece.

If I make something that I really like, there gets to be a point where I’m worried that if I keep working on it I’ll ruin it. But I guess wood is less forgiving than clay because you can just mush some more clay and just remake it. But I can’t mush some more wood on there. So I get worried in that sense.

I‘m very impressed that [The Gates of Hell] can have so many masterpieces that are all collected onto one piece, that as a whole look better than they would in their individual forms.

P: What’s next for you as an artist and as an engineer?

VP: I’ve two goals with art right now, related to combining art forms. I’ve done a lot of 3D sculptures and I’m starting to work with 2D work, just because it’s easy to work with in my room. I want to combine the 2D with the 3D, so it would basically be a colored relief carving– paintings–and I want to make it so it has the depth but it has all those colors.

And then I’m also trying to combine fabric art with wood art too. A friend of mine, also in the Chemistry department, is working with silk painting, like ancient silk dyeing techniques. So you get dyes and you paint these pieces of silk with it, and then you steam those dyes and it causes the dyes to bond to the silk. And it’s the same way they dye silk ties. So I’ve been going over to her place and she has almost an art studio starting to develop in her house, and we silk paint.

I’ve been working on a silk painting of a wave crashing. And then I’m making all the rocks out of wood…wood has a lot of different colors but they can’t be vibrant colors, it’s very earth tone-y. And then the silk is beautiful for vibrant colors. Like if you look at ties, they’re all vibrant yellows and blues,…so it’s really great for sunsets and water and stuff and that, but it’s not really great for an earth tone. They compliment each other perfectly…so I’m trying to combine those…

Written by: Daniela Chang-Foxon
Photography by: Cathy Wang
Edited by: Annie Zheng

PULSE Magazine thanks Vince Pane for his time.

Vince’s design will be displayed at the Anderson et La Mode event, which will take place on June 1st at The Anderson Collection.