Scratch paper and statistics homework leads to art exhibit for Statistics undergraduate student Bingyu Zhou

Date

10/05/21

Senior Statistics student, Bingyu Zhou, has been selected to display her artwork at the Illini Union Art Gallery through the month of October. Her show, Scratch Paper Paradise, comprises over 200 drawings that she has done which incorporate the reuse of the scratch paper from her problem sets.

Bingyu Zhou
Bingyu Zhou - Statistics Undergraduate Student with upcoming Illini Union Art Gallery exhibit.

While Bingyu has taken many art classes and experimented with various styles throughout her life, she began work on this particular set of drawings whilst studying for finals about a year and a half ago. She says that she had begun to feel a bit overwhelmed from doing nothing but math all day long, so she started doodling on her scratch paper as an act of self-care and a way to combat stress. Once she finishes a sheet of scratch paper, she takes five minutes to draw on it with a heavy felt-tip marker. She found that not only was the process relaxing and gave her a much needed break from her calculations, it also motivated her to study more. She wanted to continue making art, but first she needed to produce a used scratch paper to do it on!

Her work also fits in well with Campus Sustainability Month, which is celebrated through the month of October on the U of I campus.  When she was selected for a show at the gallery with this focus in mind, she decided to take the idea a bit further and display her work in cardboard frames repurposed from ordinary shipping boxes.

Zhou began her time at the University of Illinois as an Industrial Engineering student but became interested in Statistics after taking STAT 420 - the required class for the Operations Research track. She credits Professor Alexey Stepanov for piquing her interest. He was so funny and such a great lecturer, she says, that she ended up taking STAT 433 as well, which led her to declare Statistics as a second major.

Bingyu Art
Scratch Paper Paradise artwork that will be on display at the Illini Union Art Gallery

She also appreciates that Professor Stepanov helped her see the interconnection between disciplines. When he pointed out the similarities of Statistics to Actuarial Science, she decided to take the Society of Actuaries (SOA) exam, which scored her an internship at American Enterprise Group over the summer. Whilst there she enjoyed learning about coding and programming in real world settings. She says that while in class you are often given a data set that has already been cleaned, the internship provided a great opportunity to work with raw data and figure out on her own how to proceed with real problems that come up.

Bingyu is currently undecided about her post-graduation plans; she is applying to graduate programs but is also considering a full-time job. Whatever she ends up doing, she is interested in continuing to take an interdisciplinary approach, and is passionate about using her newfound skills to help mitigate societal problems. She would love to explore the idea of presenting statistical results in an artistic way, and wants to “make science and data beautifully approachable,” she says.

The opening reception for Scratch Paper Paradise will be held at the Illini Union Art Gallery on Thursday, October 7, from 4:30 – 6:30 pm.  Food and refreshments will be available, and Bingyu will also be giving short demonstrations of her process throughout the evening.

The show will run through October 31; Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 7am – 6pm.

Scratch Paper Paradise Poster

If you are a Statistics student and would like to share some of the things you are doing related to Statistics and your passion projects, community involvement, clubs, or other related items, please send us an email at stat-office@illinois.edu , we would like to hear more. 

Gillian Gabriel 10-5-2021

 

 

 

 

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