It's Nikola Tesla's birthday, and here's how you can celebrate


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"Tesla's Colorado Springs Lab" - PHIL LEAR
  • Phil Lear
  • "Tesla's Colorado Springs Lab"
One-hundred and fifty-eight years ago today, a little boy was born in what is now Croatia, and he would grow up to do amazing things, which are really best explained not by me, but by one of Nikola Tesla's number one fans, the Oatmeal.

(Call me lazy, but an infographic with swear words is way more fun to read. So take a minute, learn up if you haven't already.)

Right, so Tesla, the guy who set up a studio in Colorado Springs to experiment, and whose currents caused city-wide blackouts and sent horses galloping, crazed from the electricity in the ground they picked up through their shoes.

This is also the same guy who spoke eloquently about topics way before his own time. Via Mental Floss, this heartening quote on gender equality from 1926:

“But the female mind has demonstrated a capacity for all the mental acquirements and achievements of men, and as generations ensue that capacity will be expanded; the average woman will be as well educated as the average man, and then better educated, for the dormant faculties of her brain will be stimulated to an activity that will be all the more intense and powerful because of centuries of repose. Woman will ignore precedent and startle civilization with their progress.”
You can celebrate Tesla in lots of ways, for instance, right now you can visit the Mining Exchange and see paintings of him by local artist Phil Lear.

On Saturday, you can hit the Manitou Springs Heritage Center for Tesla Fest, where throughout the afternoon you can eat cake, learn about Tesla truths and enjoy live music.


Lastly, starting in September, Colorado College's I.D.E.A. Space will open a new show devoted to Tesla-inspired artwork, with Transmission/Frequency: Tesla and His Legacy. Per the presser from curator Jessica Hunter-Larsen:
Transmission/Frequency: Tesla and His Legacy features contemporary artists whose works reflect — deliberately or not — Tesla’s maverick spirit and enduring legacy. Featured projects engage some of Tesla’s ideas, such as free-floating electrical current, self-sustaining systems/movements, electrical and fluorescent light, and magnetic fields. The exhibition will also include images and reproductions of Tesla’s inventions, with a focus on his time in Colorado Springs. 
Some of what's coming to Transmission/Frequency. - I.D.E.A. SPACE
  • I.D.E.A. Space
  • Some of what's coming to Transmission/Frequency.
In addition, I.D.E.A. will host a number of talks about Tesla's legacy, his contributions to science and engineering, and much more. Read it all after the jump.

Explore Nikola Tesla’s Creative Legacy with a New Exhibition at IDEA Space

Colorado Springs, CO. – July 8, 2014–the InterDisciplinary Experimental Arts (IDEA) program and the Innovation Institute at Colorado College present a new exhibition and series of programs entitled Transmission/Frequency: Tesla and His Legacy from from September 4 – October 18, 2014. The exhibition and associated events are free and open to the public.

Nikola Tesla played an important role in the electrical revolution that transformed life at the turn of the 20th century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity and contributed to the development of radio and wireless communication. Tesla’s story is particularly relevant to the history of Colorado Springs, as the scientist conducted some of his most dramatic experiments with electricity in the city from 1899 to1900.

Transmission/Frequency: Tesla and His Legacy features contemporary artists whose works reflect — deliberately or not — Tesla’s maverick spirit and enduring legacy. Featured projects engage some of Tesla’s ideas, such as free-floating electrical current, self-sustaining systems/movements, electrical and fluorescent light, and magnetic fields. The exhibition will also include images and reproductions of Tesla’s inventions, with a focus on his time in Colorado Springs.

Featured Artists: Dove Bradshaw; Michel de Brion; David Fodel; Dmitry Gelfand & Evelina Domnitch; neuroTransmitter (Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere); Bjoern Schuelke; Matthew Ostrowski

Transmission/Frequency: Tesla and His Legacy 
Schedule of Events
Thursday, September 4, 4:30pm
Opening Reception and IDEA Cabaret: The Creative Spark: Understanding Tesla’s Innovations
Cornerstone Arts Center Main Space and IDEA Space

IDEA Cabaret is an ongoing series of public conversations between artists, community experts, and Colorado College faculty from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Audience participation is encouraged! In this inaugural Tesla-themed Cabaret, Colorado College faculty members Richard Hilt (Professor of Physics), Kathy Giuffre (Professor of Sociology) and Ted Lindeman (Professor of Chemistry) demonstrate some of Tesla’s breakthrough inventions and explore the intersections between creative vision and scientific practice.

Saturday, September 6 9am – 4pm
Tesla at the What If…Festival
Downtown Colorado Springs

Visit IDEA’s booth at the What If…Festival, an annual event showcasing innovative thinking in all its many manifestations. Explore inventions and innovations in robotics, cycling, apps, art, broadcasting, 3D printing, urban farming, musical instruments, sports, and more!

Thursday, September 11, 4:30pm
IDEA Cabaret: Tesla in Context
Cornerstone Arts Center Film Screening Room

Until a relatively recent surge in popularity, Tesla had faded from history, overshadowed by his rival Thomas Edison’s more commercially-savvy marketing. Current portrayals of Tesla position him as an “outsider” scientist who worked in isolation; his Orthodox upbringing and subsequent spiritual proclivities have heightened this perception. In this Cabaret presentation, Jane Murphy (Associate Professor of History) and Dan Miller, Associate Professor in the Division of Liberal Arts and International Studies at the Colorado School of Mines, discuss Tesla’s place in science history and identify his various scientific and spiritual influences.

Thursday, September 18, 4:30pm
IDEA Cabaret: Transmitting Tesla: Portrayals of Tesla in the Media
Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center Film Screening Room

During his lifetime (1856-1943) and beyond, Nikola Tesla has been portrayed as an iconoclast genius, a flamboyant showman, a failed businessman, and as the prophet of a new spiritual age. In this presentation, Dylan Nelson and Clay Haskell, Assistant Professors of Film and New Media, explore the ways in which Tesla has been depicted in film and other media venues. Their talk considers how representations of Tesla reflect changing societal values and desires, as well as aspects of the man himself.

Thursday, October 2, 7pm
Lecture: Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
Cornerstone Arts Center Celeste Theatre

Author of a recently published and widely acclaimed biography of Tesla, W. Bernard Carlson’s research demystifies the legendary inventor by placing him within the cultural and technological context of his time. Carlson’s work examines Tesla’s inventions as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity. Drawing on original documents from Tesla's private and public life, Carlson shows how he was an "idealist" inventor who sought the perfect experimental realization of a great idea or principle, and who skillfully sold his inventions to the public through mythmaking and illusion. Carlson’s biography sheds new light on Tesla's visionary approach to invention and the business strategies behind his most important technological breakthroughs. Presented by the Innovation Institute, with support from the Economics Department’s Innovative Minds Lecture Series.

Friday, October 3, 4:30pm
Reception and Artists Talks with Dove Bradshaw and David Fodel
IDEA Space

Dove Bradshaw enlists the unpredictable effects of time, weather, erosion, and indoor and outdoor atmospheric conditions on natural, chemical, and manufactured materials. Grants received include: National Endowment for the Arts (1975); The Pollock-Krasner Award (1985); The Furthermore Grant (2003); and The National Science Foundation for Artists Grant (2006). Her work has been shown regularly in the US, Europe, Korea and Japan, and she appeared in the 6th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea. She is represented in the permanent collections of many major museums including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York); Museum of Modern Art (New York); The National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC); The Art Institute of Chicago; The British Museum (London); Centre Pompidou (Paris); and Marble Palace, Russian State Museum (St. Petersburg).

David Fodel is an artist, educator, writer, and curator whose work reveals the traces of systems and processes – technological and otherwise – that are overlooked. His eclectic installations, live performances, award-winning sound design and video works have been exhibited, screened, and performed internationally including: Festival ECUA-UIO (Quito, Ecuador); Future Places Festival (Porto, Portugal); Transmediale (Berlin, Germany); and the International Symposium on Electronic Art. He has been featured in Wired Magazine, and published by Media-N: The Journal of the New Media Caucus, The Experimental Television Center, and Sekans Cinema Journal. Fodel was selected for a residency in 2013 by the National Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow. He teaches Live Media, Creative Computation, and Interdisciplinary Practices at the University of Colorado, Denver and co-curates the MediaLive Festival. He has an MFA in Electronic Media Arts & Design from the University of Denver.

IDEA Space is located in the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center on the Colorado College campus, 825 N. Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO. Regular gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 1 – 6pm; Saturday 1 – 5pm. For more information about exhibits and events, visit

About Colorado College
Colorado College is a nationally prominent, four-year liberal arts college that was founded in Colorado Springs in 1874. The college operates on the innovative Block Plan, in which its 1,975 undergraduate students study one course at a time in intensive 3½-week blocks. The college also offers a master of arts in teaching degree. For more information, visit For directions or disability accommodation at the event, members of the public may call (719) 389-6607.


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