The Art of Science: Density Fluctuations

Crustacean 11

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: Voyage Redux, with bonus!

Michele Banks, Micro/Macro 3, Ink on Mylar,  2013
Michele Banks, Micro/Macro 3, Ink on Mylar, 2013

Voyage of Discovery, an art exhibition I created together with Jessica Beels and Ellyn Weiss, will reopen on Thursday for a two-month run at the McLean Project for the Arts in McLean, VA.

The artwork in Voyage of Discovery has its roots in the idea of a journey of scientific exploration, in the tradition of Darwin, Wallace, and the thousands of scientists who constantly travel the globe in search of new findings. This imaginary voyage takes viewers to a polar region where the iconic, seemingly eternal, landscape of ice and snow is in profound and rapid transition due to climate change.

The pieces in the show – ranging from ink paintings to wire and paper and wax sculptures to a massive 30 foot fabric installation – reflect our artistic responses to the transformation of land and sea as the planet warms. The show looks at many aspects of climate change – not only the obvious, like the melting of glaciers and the thawing of permafrost, but also more subtle effects, like the movement of previously unknown species and microbes into the Arctic and the dramatic shift of the color of the land from white to green to black.

Voyage of Discovery, which ran for 5 months at the American Association for the Advancement of Science earlier this year, will open with a reception and gallery talk this Thursday, from 7-9 pm, at the McLean Project for the Arts’ Emerson Gallery, at 1234 Ingleside Avenue in McLean. (details here)

As a special bonus for science fans, the reception takes place on the same day that renowned science writers Carl Zimmer and Sam Kean are speaking in the same building as part of “Fall for the Book”. Their talk starts at 7:30.  So if you arrive at 7, you can take in the art, have a glass of wine, and then go downstairs and hear more about some fascinating science. Win-win.

The Cutting Edge

If you are in the DC area tomorrow, the AAAS is hosting an interesting event that piggybacks off the Voyage of Discovery art installation by Jessica Beels, Ellyn Weiss, and our own Michele Banks called Cutting Edge: Art & Science of Climate Change:

Join AAAS for an evocative exchange as artists and scientists come together to interpret the effects of climate change on the poles…This live event features talks by two leading Arctic researchers, followed by a panel discussion on communicating climate change to the public.

“Cutting Edge: Art and Science of Climate Change” coincides with the art installation, “Voyage of Discovery,” currently in the lobby of AAAS headquarters. This remarkable exhibition, featuring works by Michele Banks, Jessica Beels, and Ellyn Weiss, explores a “hypothetical journey” to the poles where climate change has caused the ice to recede, reawakening life that has been frozen for millennia.

Cutting Edge will be held on Thursday, May 1 at 6:30PM at the AAAS Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Voyage of Discovery: The Slideshow

Michele posted fabulous pictures from Voyage of Discovery – her collaboration with Jessica Beels and Ellyn Weiss at the AAAS Art Gallery in Washington, DC – allowing those of us who cannot make it to the gallery to get a virtual taste of the experience.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Voyage of Discovery – Michele Banks, Jessica Beels, and Ellyn Weiss

Art like this requires the talent and creativity of artists. That means our artists need our support. You can support these artists by visiting their websites:

Michele Banks

Jessica Beels

Ellyn Weiss

Artwork by Jessica Beels, Ellyn Weiss, and Michele Banks. All photos by Michele Banks. All rights reserved by respective copyright holders. Used with permission. 

Voyage of Discovery

I’d strongly encourage you to watch the video. Michele, Jessica, and Ellyn provide some very profound thinking about the ways scientists and artists view the world – and challenge both groups to learn from each other.

Even better. If you are in the DC area (or are traveling through), make some time to visit the exhibition in person. Make a point to support these talented artists.

Even betterer. Really support these artists by acquiring some of their work to keep near you at all times. Like their style, but don’t see the one thing you want most in the world. Ask about commissioning a piece. It is often cheaper than you think, yet makes you feel like plutocratic patron of the arts. And, that is a very good feeling.

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