St. Barths Online


Jun 27, 2013

Interview with Kay Quattrocchi by Panos Charitos

Kay Quattrocchi is an artist passioned about the Universe and inspired by the latest discoveries unveiling some of its secrets. For Kay “Learning, discovering and opening our minds to other dimensions than those imposed by our five senses” is a source of motivation. Her work is “Allowing your mind to feel the immense joy of being there and trying to understand the universe”. Sharing her time between St Barthélemy (French West Indies) and New York, Kay is planning future exhibitions in Chelsea in NY and in the East Hamptons while she also has more ambitious plans for an exhibition in the Middle East and also for a project with CERN.

Kay has been inspired from the first ALICE results from the proton-lead run and painted a number of portraits of ALICE which she kindly shared in the ALICE_Experiment page on facebook. In this interview we discuss how inspiration from particle physics drives her work and her future plans.

1) Have you always been interested in science?

I've always been attracted to science, particularly physics, since I was very young. My mother taught me painting at the age of 7. I think that I was also inspired by my father who was an engineer in civil engineering.

In 1969 after 11 years of living in Saïgon we returned to France and growing up between the world of war, cement and art gave me a clear-minded observer, philosopher and artistic spirit.

In 1969 Armstrong put his foot on the moon. After all these images of war during my childhood, where human intelligence was at the service of death and destruction, that small step was a declic for me and my vision of the human being. It seemed like a hope of peace, a hope of discovering the silent universe.

The discoveries of Einstein and nuclear tests have impressed me. Especially the chance to give or take life with such small particles. I started to read, seek and discover the world and its mysteries at this point in my child's mind until today It is natural that the infinitely small world attracts me. What our senses can not pick, but our intellect can apprehend.


Proton-lead collisions with ALICE as seen by Kay Quattrocchi
Proton-lead collisions with ALICE as "seen" by Kay Quattrocchi

2) How did you decide to explore particle physics in your work?

Following my readings, I needed to get closer to neutrinos, the particles that pass through us, and we do not see. As an artist I am still a layman, even if I study, my work is essentially a try to interpret and feel the spirit of physical particles. I read and watch interviews, visualize equations and let my mind get in shape and colour. When I feel it all, a sort of pictorial bridge between the visible and the invisible emerges!


Kay Quattrocchi painting

3) When did you hear about ALICE and how did you decide to work on "title of your work"?

A few years ago (about 10 years) I decided to give the name of Alice in several of my paintings in relation to the heroine of the novel by Lewis Carroll, who goes to a world of multiple possibilities.

When I got interested in CERN, I discovered that the name of Alice existed and I wondered if the choice of this name was based on the same reasoning ? it also allowed me to see that many of my paintings were strangely similar to your experiments described or photographed. It was a decisive trigger that confirmed my desire to continue my researches and paint my feelings.

For me it felt that I had to follow the thread of Arianne and I could get closer with respect, humility and admiration for all those physicists who are researching and working for our future.


The Higgs boson by Kay Quattrocchi
The Higgs boson by Kay Quattrocchi

4) Which are your future plans?

In the future I would like to set up a project for a museum with bubble chambers. I have designed the project which is called "O" Program. Inside each bubble, visitors will be able to experiment with their 5 senses which is not possible in reality, since it is the “infinitely small’. However, for the time being I can't tell you more.


Kay Quattrocchi exploring new neutrinos worlds through her paintings
Kay Quattrocchi exploring new "neutrinos worlds" through her paintings

I have already draw the possible architecture with these bubbles chambers. (and describe what there is inside). I am enthusiast but I am not a dreamer. I am trying to calculate the cost to manufacture these bubbles chambers and everything will be inside so that people experience with their 5 senses the world in a different dimension where five senses experiment are not possible.

LHC Hommage 2
LHC Hommage 2

Please check out kay Quattrocchi's work or send her an email at


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