Elemental – Coco Chai

“Elemental” depicts the powerful hydrogen fusion reaction that takes place at the core of the Sun. The tremendous gravitational force of the Sun squeezes hydrogen nuclei together to produce helium. The energy released from the reaction counteracts the inward gravitational force, keeping the Sun from collapsing on its own gravity. This fusion process is significant and unique in the sense that it is the reaction that makes the Sun shine, makes all lives on Earth possible, and paves the way for the existence of all other elements across the universe.
The main colors in the painting — purple, blue, red, yellow, and green — are the ones that make up the hydrogen and helium emission spectra and are a symbolic representation of the fusion process. The contrasting black and white brushstrokes represent the inward gravity and the outward thermal pressure that put the star in gravitational equilibrium. Lastly, an often overlooked product of hydrogen fusion is neutrinos, neutrally charged, almost massless subatomic particles that have a huge presence in the universe. They are the tiny black dots floating around in the background. Through this painting, I hope to let the audience visualize this important fusion process and see the beauty in physics.