23 Sep 2017

Science in Art

Spoiler warning: this post mentions artistic items people are making for sale -- but they're all about science!

This summer I have run into a few people who are inspired by science to make beautiful things. One is a potter looking at living cells through a microscope. One is a graduate student studying Earth Sciences, who inspires kids learning how science and art overlap in this way. And the third is making large pictures showing melting glaciers -- more colourful than you'd think!

Here's a photo I took this summer at the farmer's market in Sooke, BC, where Sydnie Nicole sells her ceramic art. She's studying Art Education, and the surfaces and glazes of her pottery show designs based on the images she sees of living cells through a microscope. Check out her website at this link, where you can see see photos of her work, and her artist's statement which reads in part:
Carved and stamped by hand, Sydnie’s functional and sculptural work reveals a dedication to detail that bridges the disciplines of craft and science into the everyday world.
One particularly charming oval platter is designed to show what a pine needle looks like when you cut a slice across the needle and focus a microscope on the slice. Along with mugs and bowls and plates she makes from clay, Sydnie also has this interesting panel of wall art you can see on the easel behind her, called "Biomedical Artistica." She teamed up with biomedical grad researcher Andrew Agbay for this piece, which shows small spheres delivering medication to the network of living stem cells turning into neurons.

This pair of pottery pieces is a particular favourite of hers -- it's salt and pepper shakers, that sit on her dining table. The nifty part is that the salt cellar is shaped like salt crystals are, in a cube. The pepper shaker is shaped like a black peppercorn, round with wrinkles. Charming!

I found another science artist, but this time online. Jill Pelto is studying for her Masters degree in Earth Sciences at University of Maine. You can check out her Twitter feed at this link, which shows some of her interesting drawings. "I create field sketches of places I have researched, and environmental illustrations," wrote Jill Pelto on her Twitter profile. Y'see, Jill not only makes drawings in the field when she's out gathering data on glaciers and doing research in places as far away as the Falkland Islands, or New Zealand and Antarctica. She makes art based on the jagged lines and curves made when her data is printed in a graph. Sometimes a zigzag line will look to her like a melting glacier, other times it will be part of her drawing of a forest fire. 

Here is an image of her work "Proxies for the Past" which appeared on Yale Climate Connections website. You can read what they wrote about Jill Pelto and her art at this link. To see more of Jill Pelto's art, check out this link to where she sells some of her Glaciogenic Art, including that image.
On Twitter, there's a link to images created by students who were inspired by Jill Pelto's art. It's nice to see emerging art as well as her polished pieces.

And if you're a fan of science-inspired art and want to see more, check out the pastel drawings done by Zaria Forman at this link, where she is making a striking series of images based on photographs of glaciers in Antarctica. She makes drawings and paintings using pastels, a chalk-y medium, on large sheets of white paper and large canvases. In the video shown at the link, she is working on a drawing big enough that she is using her fingers to apply the pastels. Melting glaciers means more than just statistics to me when I can see so many shades of blue and white in the ice she draws!

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