A Sci-Art group exhibition curated by Sara McCormick, featuring NW artists:
Friday, July 29 from 6 PM – 9 PM
The search for understanding is not finite. It is ever changing.
As science has become more accessible and present in our lives, artists have found a rich universe of ideas and imagery to explore. The development of new and greater technology has provided both scientists and artists with the tools to delve deeper into the nature of our own universe, sometimes even outside the realm of human vision. We are bombarded with news of scientific discoveries, it seems, almost daily. This flood of information can be both exciting and daunting. As a layperson, and from a broader cultural perspective, how do we process all this new information?
These Portland-based painters and sculptures draw their inspiration from science, including the study of anatomy, neuroscience, quantum physics, astronomy and biomimicry of nature. Through their own research and artistic insight, each lends a unique perspective to their chosen subject. Transforming theoretical concepts and scientific data into works that are both intriguing and informative.
Not only does science provide a wealth of inspiration for artists, the two practices have more in common than most people realize; both are about process, discovery, and a quest for understanding. By bridging the disciplines of art and science, we hope to create an exhibit that is beautiful as well as enlightening. We hope to show our viewers the power of wonder and the surprising connections between visual art and science.
PLUS live performance by Shannon Entropy!
My work explores the intersection between the ‘two cultures’ of science and art which share a common wonder for the creative possibilities of the material and natural worlds. Trained both as a molecular biologist and as a painter, I’m fascinated by the human brain–our complex machine–which can fathom the beginning of time and the nature of its own thought. Even so, after centuries of study, neuroscientists are only now starting to chart the mysterious biological map of our cognition.
My goal is to visually express the mystery and process of scientific inquiry in my layered mixed-media objects through the incorporation of diagrams, data, maps, molecules and microscopic images which are then incised, written upon, erased or scraped back to previous layers. An artistic rendering of scientific information requires an acceptance of the inherent and often unpredictable nature of discovery: my art investigates how and where these worlds might intertwine and mingle.
Across my work, spherical constellations of connections cluster and collect like seeds or viruses. These forms spread across the surface, traveling beyond the confines of the figures that generate them. Although our memories are vulnerable, humans have transcended that fragility by binding ideas together and allowing them to live outside the confines of our mind by passing them on with language and art. Some memories and ideas are worth keeping. Do not erase.
In some pieces there is a figure of a phrenology head, a debunked theory and practice that mapped character and mental abilities to the bumps on a person’s head. This image is a reminder that science searches at the limits of its ability to observe. Neuroscience is a burgeoning field of study that no longer treats the brain like a black box. Still, we currently observe neural activity in the human mind indirectly and only look at functionality more directly in other animals. We learn more each day about activity and structures at a cellular level, but we still have a long way to go, building on the ideas that others have brought together, written down, and passed on.
My interests lie in the biological bases of what seem visceral and intangible — ideas, empathy, creativity, and memory. I follow cutting edge research with all its missteps and conjecture. My ideas for work stem from lectures I’ve attended or articles I’ve read which I allow to percolate until inspiration finally rises to the surface of my creative process. Artists and scientists share a curiosity for the world and a willingness to tread into uncharted territory all while observing what others miss. This is why I’m not only interested in replicating images from science, but my desire is to amplify the unknown and give shape to human curiosity and thought.
Julian Voss Andreae
Contemporary technology is ushering in a new era for sculpture, comparable perhaps only to the invention of metal casting during antiquity. In my work I draw cutting-edge approaches from very diverse fields to re-imagine the ancient art of figurative sculpture. My goal is to convey elements of our spiritual essence and open our eyes to the miraculous nature of the underlying nature of reality.
I started out as painter in my youth and later switched to physics. I studied at the universities of Berlin and Edinburgh, and did my graduate research participating in a seminal experiment probing the foundations of quantum physics in one of the world’s leading research groups at the University of Vienna. My science training enables me to take advantage of the latest technologies to achieve my artistic visions. But most importantly, my first-hand experience of the enigmatic nature of reality has provided me with key cultural insights, informing my path ever since. Contrary to our strongly held prejudices about the workings of the universe, there simply is no ‘reality’ out there that is independent of us. Similarly, the divide we perceive between us and the rest of our world turns out to be an illusion: Ultimately, we cannot separate ourselves from each other and the rest of the universe, both in a physical sense as well as when it comes to our actions. These kinds of ideas were well-known for millennia in certain Eastern spiritual traditions but in the West they appeared only relatively recently, at about the same time as non-representational art emerged in the early twentieth century. Quantum physics came as a complete surprise even to its discoverers and it stands in striking contrast to the old (and still absolutely predominant) ‘Newtonian’ paradigm, the mindset of separating subject and object, of detaching ourselves from nature, and of dividing the world into small parts assuming this will lead to an understanding of the whole. Art is holistic in its very essence, both when we create it, as well as when we consume it. And art provides the seeds for our future. Before our future happens, we have dreamt it up. And the central place where we, as a collective mind, dream up our future, is in art. It is therefore critical to harness the transformative powers inherent in art to get to the future we want. I believe a cultural change comparable in depth to the Renaissance is imminent. The urgent need for a paradigm shift is most obvious in our reckless attitude toward our environment; we are jeopardizing our future by rapidly making our planet uninhabitable. Art is a powerful driver of the cultural and spiritual change desperately needed. The lessons of quantum physics offer us a glimpse of a different way of dealing with each other and dealing with our world and I feel it is critical that those embryonic ideas get out into the cultural mainstream. My work is a reminder of our fundamental connectedness, giving tangible expression to the vital paradigm shift from Newtonian separation to a renewed connection with Nature.
The physical wonders of the world spark my imagination, and as an artist, I feel compelled to respond through the creation of art. My work, like science, manifests through discovery, learning and remaining open to new ways of understanding and interpreting the world around us.
As an artist, I feel a strong responsibility to transcend and distill human concerns through my art making. The narrative for my work combines contemporary contrasts found in nature and science as its template and is created by way of continual unearthing in both concept and materials.
My studio practice is fluid and multidisciplinary and explores the contradictions between chaos, the indifference of nature and the human impulse to comprehend through exploration. Using four mediums, encaustic and oil painting, drawing and printmaking, the work weaves a continuous thread. I work as if I am navigating an uncharted path, facilitating a conversation between all disciplines.
I am interested in the structures of minute, living organisms that surround us but are invisible to the naked eye. These elegant textures have been refined by evolution over millions of years into the most efficient shapes for each organism’s purpose. Now, scientists are starting to redesign these living organisms using the new science of Synthetic Biology. This scientific frontier, which has the power to solve many of humanity’s current and future problems, excites my imagination and informs the current direction of my work.
To create my sculptures, I combine images from the natural world, the bio-sciences and my own photography with other forms into my own, newly imagined bio-organisms. I use computer programs to synthesize different images and textures using a modified photolithographic process. I then reductively carve these two dimensional images into colored layers of melted glass, creating translucent and intricately textured bas relief sculptures.
Some of my artwork is characterized by organic webs of spherical cell textures that are deeply incised into luminous glass, others by intricately laced insect wing structures that seamlessly morph into the faceted surface of an insect’s eye, mirror imaged and abstracted.
In the future I want to explore this subject matter further, particularly as it relates to the way living organisms use light at the cellular level, and the new research field termed Optogenetics, in which scientists use light to change cells in living organisms. The pace of scientific developments is accelerating and provides me with new and challenging opportunities for visual exploration of the natural world at its most elemental level.
“Numbers are beautiful. If they aren’t beautiful, nothing is.” Paul Erdõs
Every mark in my work is a number or an equation drawn by hand.
I am not a mathematician, I am not a scientist, and I have no real artistic training. If you gave me a multiple choice question about education, I would tick off the little box next to “some college”, and even then I would just barely qualify. I’ve come to my love of science organically, and I’ve never known any other way to be than an artist. I’m self taught in most everything I do, so I’ve really made a career of being curious and persistent.
My pieces take me an average of 200 hours to draw and upwards of a year to research. My media is pen, pencil or color pencil on paper or etchings on scratchboard, metal or glass. I use the smallest nibs I can find and often work under a magnifying glass.
Without a math or science background, studying things like the body and brain can be daunting. I have found that illustrating what I’ve learned with data that define the subjects function, connects me to it in a meaningful way and provides me with a lasting memory of the material. As an artist and science enthusiast, it is impossible to learn and not be inspired. This work is my way of sharing that awe and love with you as it continues to motivate me to study and learn about subjects that may seem out of reach, given my background.