Angela Gonzales was born in 1935 and grew up in Germany. Her parents, Curt Lahs and Marianne (Ari) Lahs (née Matthiae) were both artists.
Gonzales began studying art in 1945 at the Staatlichen Hochschule für Bildende Künste, where she studied with Hans Uhlman. In 1958, she completed her graduate studies in graphic arts with Wilhelm Hölter. She immigrated to the United States in 1959 and ultimately began working for Robert R. Wilson as a graphic artist at the Laboratory for Nuclear Studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Wilson admired her work, and when he became director of the National Accelerator Laboratory (NAL) in 1967, he offered her the position of assistant to the director for art and design. She became employee number 11 at NAL and was one of the employees who worked in NAL’s early offices in Oakbrook, Illinois.
Gonzales worked with Wilson to coordinate the aesthetic design of the lab's site, publications, and posters. She designed the lab's iconic logo, which was based on Wilson’s drawings of dipole and quadrupole magnets. She also developed the lab's color scheme, drawing inspiration from brightly colored children's building blocks. Gonzales’s intention in selecting a palette of orange, yellow, blue, and red was to make the structures stand out from the natural world around them. In addition to the colors, she also developed the lettering for many of the lab’s structures. Gonzales created hundreds of unique images for the lab, many of them intricate pencil and ink drawings. She designed covers and mastheads for the lab’s publications (including annual reports, newsletters, conference proceedings, design reports, and others), posters for events (including lectures, arts events, conferences, lab-wide parties, and many other occasions), holiday cards, property labels, vehicle stickers, logos, and numerous other things. One of her most well-known designs was the cover of the 1968 NAL Design Report, which featured Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man in a representation of the Main Ring accelerator.
In his essay "Starting Fermilab," first Fermilab director Robert Wilson wrote "Angela Gonzales, a draftsman at Cornell and a talented painter, had worked closely with me during the design of the Cornell synchrotron. She understood well what I was trying to get at, and was useful in her criticisms of the balance of my lines and forms. I was delighted when she agreed to come to the project, for she embodied to a degree what I wanted with regard to the aesthetics of the project. Her influence can be seen everywhere at the Lab, from the colors and forms of the buildings and accelerator to the highly original drawings on the covers of reports and the illustrations within."
Gonzales retired from Fermilab in July 1998 and passed away on October 20, 2015, but the lab still bears the stamp of her unique artistic vision.
Angela Gonzales Content
(Note: These links will take you to the "Art and Architecture" section of the website.)
- Making an Art of Science: High-Energy Artist Says Goodbye — August 14, 1998
- In Memoriam: Angela Gonzales — October 21, 2015
- Fermilab’s Pioneering Artist Angela Gonzales Featured in New Art Show — May 13, 2017
- Angela Gonzales Gallery