Biorenewables Research Laboratory: Art Innovators

Artist/Designer  Request for Proposals

Biorenewables Research Laboratory: Art Innovators Commission

This RFP solicits applications from ISU faculty for art to be commissioned for the Biorenewables Research Laboratory Building lobby/gallery on the ISU campus. Commissioning organizations include the ISU Bioeconomy Institute, the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals, and the ISU College of Design. Awards ranging from $2K – 6K will be provided to successful applicants. Preproposals are due September 3, 2021. After preliminary selection has been made, final proposals are due October 8, 2021 and projects are to be completed by March 1, 2022. Installation will be completed by April 8, 2022 with a reception planned for April 22, 2020.

Profile of Commissioning Institutions

The College of Design is a comprehensive design institution that includes Architecture, Art and Visual Culture, Community and Regional Planning, Industrial Design, Interior Design, Graphic Design and Landscape Architecture.

The Bioeconomy Institute (BEI) seeks to advance the use of biorenewable resources for the production of fuels, energy, chemicals, and materials. The Institute will assure Iowa’s prominence in the revolution that is changing the way society obtains its essential sources of energy and carbon.

The Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) was founded in 2008 with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) creating a NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) focused on advanced manufacturing for sustainable biobased chemicals.

Project Summary

We are seeking ISU College of Design faculty, and faculty collaborators from other ISU departments, to conceive and submit proposals for art to be created for the lobby of the Biorenewables Research Laboratory. The works will engage, inspire and educate the public about ISU interdisciplinary research to advance the bioeconomy.

Human societies, like living organisms, require sources of energy and carbon to survive and grow. Most living organisms obtain energy and carbon from the biosphere. In contrast, most modern human societies rely on fossil resources for energy and carbon, although this is a relatively recent historical development. Before wide-scale exploitation of fossil resources starting in the eighteenth century, human societies were almost completely dependent on biorenewable resources. The challenge of the 21st century is to create a bioeconomy, in which human societies obtain sustainable sources of energy and carbon from the biosphere. – Robert Brown, Director, Bioeconomy Institute

Our vision for the art is to engage and make visible the discovery and deployment of technologies to derive fuels, chemicals, materials, and power from biomass.

Site Description

The artwork will occupy the lobby of the Biorenewables Research Laboratory (BRL), a LEED Gold certified building dedicated to interdisciplinary research. The lobby has about 1,000 square feet of open area and includes built-in art display areas. It is open to the public during business hours. People using and passing through the lobby include: researchers, faculty, students and staff; industry representatives, government officials, academics, and alumni; potential students and their families; and K-12 students and teachers. Artwork has been on display in the lobby since the building was new as it was home to the annual Biorenewables Art Competition, held annually from 2010-2019.

Design Criteria

Priority will be given to projects that reflect a research base in areas related to the mission as stated above and/or cross-disciplinary work. Applicants are encouraged to visit the site prior to submitting a proposal. In developing a proposal, plans for creation of several works are encouraged. Note that we are unable to support work that exists on a digital platform (computer, video monitors).


Awards will range from $2K – $6K which includes installation costs.

Project Timeline

Preproposals are due September 3, 2021; final proposals are due October 8, 2021; projects are to be completed by March 1, 2022; and installation to be completed by April 8, 2022.

Proposal Requirements

Applications to include current CV indicating prior public art projects, artist statement of intent, description of project, concept and approach, schematic drawings or sketches and material and maintenance requirements.


Finalists will be expected to meet with the committee to present their proposal and engage in a dialogue about the scope of their work.

Application Form

Artists must submit an application form to be considered.

Application Form


Ingrid Lilligren: Phone: 515-294-8883;
Jill Euken: Phone: 712-249-0335;
Bob Mills: Phone: 515-233-3140 (cell);