The Art of Science: Most Agreeable Developments

janeIf Jane Austen blogged about science art, she would note that it is a truth universally acknowledged, that artists and scientists are rarely found in the same place. You don’t often find an artist in a lab, and you seldom see a scientist in a gallery. (Yes, yes, I know, there are exceptions! It’s not polite to interrupt Jane Austen.)

There are many reasons for this, involving various permutations of, well, let’s not say pride or prejudice exactly, but perhaps a difference of sensibilities.  Now comes an opportunity to get around at least a few of these, by having artists meet scientists where they are.

Two major annual meetings of scientific organizations, The American Public Health Association and the Society for Neuroscience, have created opportunities for science artists to display and sell their work to their thousands of attendees. Rather remarkably, both take place on exactly the same dates – November 15-19, 2014.

The annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held this year in New Orleans, attracts 12,000 attendees in a wide variety of fields related to public health. As part of a new initiative called Art @ The Expo, they are looking for 20 artists or crafters whose work is health, medicine or science related to show and vend at the meeting. The $200 booth fee for 3 days is a fraction of what APHA charges its large commercial exhibitors.  More information and guidelines for applicants are here.

Do you delight in dendrites? The Art of Neuroscience, part of the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), seeks artists whose work is directly related to neuroscience. For a $300 fee, artists can show their work at the gigantic gathering of some 30,000 neuroscientists in Washington, DC. Interested artists can find more information and a prospectus here  – the deadline for applications is August 29.

It’s really encouraging to see large scientific organizations take steps to include independent artists and crafters in their events. AAAS, ACS, ASM, please take note. If, to quote Jane Austen, “one half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other,” at least some people are making an effort to provide a peek over the fence. Perhaps others may be persuaded?

The Art of Science: Tissues from Tissues

Jessica Drenk: Soft Cell Tissue toilet paper, wax, glass
Jessica Drenk: Soft Cell Tissue
toilet paper, wax, glass

I spotted a wall sculpture by Jessica Drenk recently at the Adah Rose Gallery in Maryland. The piece attracted me because it looked like osteocytes, a type of bone cell that I’ve featured before in my paintings. It took several more glances before I realized that these particular cells were, in fact, made of rolls of toilet paper.

As it turns out, this is exactly Drenk’s oeuvre – taking common, manufactured items and transforming them back into the building blocks of nature. In addition to toilet paper, she has used pencils, books, mop heads, Q-tips, coffee filters and PVC pipe to create familiar yet unfamiliar versions of natural forms, from rock formations to nerve cells.

As she describes her work:  “By transforming familiar objects into nature-inspired forms and patterns, I examine how we classify the world around us. Manufactured goods appear as natural objects, something functional becomes something decorative, a simple material is made complex, and the commonplace becomes unique. In changing books into fossilized remnants of our culture, or in arranging elegantly sliced PVC pipes to suggest ripple and wave patterns, I create a connection between the man-made and the natural.” (source)

Her work is currently on view in a group show at the Seager Gray Gallery in California and will be featured in a solo show at the Adah Rose Gallery in Kensington, MD next month. You can see lots more at her website.


The Art of Science: The Bloody Brilliance of Jordan Eagles

Life Force, 2012
Life Force, 2012

I get no kick from old bones
Nails, skin and hair
No, I really don’t care
Just give me that trickle, that flood
‘Cause I get a kick out of blood.

OK, so maybe that’s not quite how that song goes.  I was inspired by bravura bloodwork of this week’s Art of Science pick, Jordan Eagles. Continue reading “The Art of Science: The Bloody Brilliance of Jordan Eagles”

The Art of Science: Three to See

Pass it On by Jessica Beels at Strathmore Hall
Pass it On by Jessica Beels at Strathmore Hall

There’s too much great science-art happening right now to pick just one thing. If you’re anywhere near Montreal, Dublin, or DC in the next few weeks, don’t miss the chance to go see some amazing work. Continue reading “The Art of Science: Three to See”

The Art of Science: Blood Scarf

Laura SplanLaura Splan is an artist who is also a certified phlebotomist. Her two fields intersect neatly, if that is the right word, in Blood Scarf, a project from 2002, in which she knitted a scarf from vinyl tubing which then filled up with blood from an IV inserted in a person’s arm.  According to Splan, “The implied narrative is a paradoxical one in which the device keeps the user warm with their blood while at the same time draining their blood drop by drop.” (source)

No word on how many cookies that model needed afterward (or if it was in fact the artist herself), but wearing your blood on the outside never did catch on as a fashion statement. Prints of the work will appear in an upcoming exhibit of her work called “Gone Viral: Medical Science and Contemporary Textile Art” in the Cathy and Jesse Marion Art Gallery at SUNY in Fredonia, NY from March 8 to April 7.

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