Tag Archives: science art

Art of Science: A Moth’s Brief Life in Art

elsabe-dixon-event-image

Artist Elsabé Dixon grew up raising silkworms in cardboard boxes as a child in South Africa.  Now based in Virginia, Dixon has made her childhood hobby the source of her art, now on display in a unique residency and installation called LIVE/LIFE at Arlington’s Artisphere through February 22.

In the Artisphere studio, Dixon and helpers first constructed an environment for domesticated silkworms (Bombyx mori) to live out a life cycle – hatching from eggs to caterpillars, eating mulberry leaves, spinning cocoons, pupating, mating and dying – and then created sculpture using what was left behind, including twigs, empty cocoons, salt and even silkworm poop.

Detail from LIVE/LIFE, Elsabe Dixon, Mixed Media, 2014-15

Detail from LIVE/LIFE, Elsabe Dixon, Mixed Media, 2014-15

Dixon sees the life cycle of the Bombyx mori – the only truly domesticated insect in the world – as a means of investigating many aspects of life. The first and most obvious is the ephemeral and ever-changing nature of life, but the work examines many other issues, including our relationships with society, nature and the built environment.

There are no barriers between the insects and the audience here. Visitors in the earlier months of the residency were free to touch the caterpillars and the moths. When I visited earlier in January, the moths were all dead, but I was able to touch the silk cocoons left behind.

The sculptural installation that Dixon has constructed, first for the silkworms to live in and then using their products and detritus, is based on microscopic photographs of silkworm particles. Made from materials including rubber, cut-up cardboard paper towel  tubes, discarded silk cocoons, mulberry branches and, yes, piles of caterpillar poop, the installation looks organic, natural, and utterly at home in its modern-art setting.

LIVE/LIFE is open to the public Thursday and Friday evenings as well as Sunday afternoons, when the artist welcomes visitors to join in conversations with her and others in the field of art, medicine, engineering and food production.

The Art of Science: Rosemary Mosco Explores Quirks of Nature

From Quirks of Nature

From Quirks of Nature by Rosemary Mosco

Rosemary Mosco is a naturalist, illustrator and science communicator who has seamlessly merged her scientific and artistic interests into a range of projects, most notably her Bird and Moon science comics.

Mosco’s academic background as a field naturalist, her obvious love of nature in all its forms, and her sunny sense of humor and cheerful style combine to create informative content that feels effortless.

Her work is featured in an exhibition called Quirks of Nature, running through June 8 at the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, NY.  The exhibition pairs her comics and illustrations with fossils, taxidermy, live animals, and more. Mosco provides commentary on her drawings and the inspiration behind them – from working at a bird rehabilitation center as a kid to suffering through an awkward first date – while experts explain the hard science behind each comic.

If you can’t make it to Ithaca, you can see more of Rosemary Mosco’s work at her website and support her work via Patreon.

The Art of Science: Density Fluctuations

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Ellyn Weiss, Unidentified Specimen, Wax and Pigment

Concepts of time and change center the work of three artists in a show entitled Density Fluctuations that opened yesterday at the American Center for Physics in College Park, MD. The exhibition features work inspired by physics and biology by Shanthi Chandrasekar, Stephen Schiff and Ellyn Weiss in a variety of media. Chandrasekar, who studied physics before becoming a painter, explores the differences in the understanding of time as expressed in science and myth. Stephen Schiff morphs photographs, starting with images of nature and multiplying them and reconfiguring them like cells to create new, complex geometries. Ellyn Weiss uses layers of wax and pigment to create her imagined versions of creatures discovered by science as layers of ice melt. The intriguing shapes of her sculptures hint at unknown species of animals or strange mineral deposits. Together, the work of these three beguiling artists in approaching such heady topics is sure to provide plenty of food for thought.

Density Fluctuations is on display at the American Center for Physics until April 2015. More information is here.

Shanthi Chandrasekar, Chakra-Neer, Acrylic on Canvas

Shanthi Chandrasekar, Chakra-Neer, Acrylic on Canvas

The Art of Science: Scenes from the Deep, Distant Past

Alison Carey, Ordovician Period, 440-500 Mya, 2005

Alison Carey, Ordovician Period, 440-500 Mya, 2005

Alison Carey’s photographs of “Organic Remains of a Former World” are among the standouts of the current show at the National Academies of Science, Imagining Deep Time.  Carey uses a mix of sculpture, installation and photography to conjure up visions of ancient marine environments from each of the seven periods in the Paleozoic era.

To call these pieces small, murky and brownish would be accurate, but would barely hint at their evocative power and beauty.  Carey uses scientific data about the different periods and consults illustrations of their flora and fauna. The artist says that she was searching for uncharted territories in an era where little of the globe remains unexplored.

“In my search for a location that has not been photographed, I look to the Earth’s ancient past, a world that existed millions of years ago. I am drawn to this space because it is absent from human recollection and experience. Through my photographs, I offer the viewer a glimpse into a primitive landscape that has since been eroded or erased.”

Carey sculpts her creatures and rock formations out of clay, fires them and then submerges them  in the water of multiple 55-gallon aquariums. She then photographs them in her studio using a large format view camera, and prints them as contemporary ambrotypes using 9 x 23” black glass that she hand-coats with silver gelatin emulsion.

She adds that “the organic nature of this process adds to the rendition of these watery scenes by the serendipitous appearance of bubbles, streaks and obliterated areas of darkness.”

If you can’t make it to Imagining Deep Time (on view at the NAS in Washington, DC until January 15, 2015), you can see more of Alison Carey’s work at her website.

 

 

Art in Situ

photo (12)photo (9)We were rehanging some of our art from Michele Banks today. The first is on a wall in our family room. The second is on the wall of our downstairs, guest bathroom, which we just repainted.

Where is yours? You do have some “Artologica” Art, don’t you?

If not, go here as quickly as possible to correct that situation.