The Pasadena Arts Council (PAC) produces the AxS Festival, a two-week citywide celebration of art and science featuring exhibitions, performances, educational activities and a Conversation Series which honors and reflects on the allied importance of both the arts and the sciences to the dynamic tenor of our time. While often described as occupying opposite ends of a spectrum, art and science are instead united in the AxS Festival’s recognition that both domains are powerful engines of contemporary culture.
A theme unique to each Festival is chosen which lends itself to interpretation by both disciplines and to consideration of profound questions of the human experience. “The Universe” (2001) contemplated man’s place in the cosmos; “The Tender Land” (2004) meditated on the fragile complexity of the natural world; “Skin” (2007) investigated culture, race and biology; “Origins” (2009) celebrating the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth, explored the origins of creativity and questions about evolution, faith and the universe; and “Fire and Water” (2011) explored the epic natural forces that have shaped human history and the landscape of this region. For 2014, PAC selected “Curiosity” as the Festival theme to honor the JPL-built Mars rover, which reached its destination in August 2012 and began its mission of surveying and analyzing the Martian surface. Planning for the 2016 AxS Festival is currently under way.
The AxS Festival embodies the integration of intuition and reason as well as emotion and intellect, and the fusion of creativity and technique and further commemorates, in Pasadena, a textured conversation between the sciences and the humanities that has long been emblematic of the city’s history, and is equally fused with its future.