“Art Meets Science 2017: Bridging Disciplines” Exhibit
The works of four MDI Biological Laboratory artists-in-residence are the subject of the laboratory’s sixth annual Art Meets Science exhibit, “Art Meets Science 2017: Bridging Disciplines.”
The works on display are the product of interactions between laboratory scientists and the artists, who were “embedded” with the scientists in their laboratories and with students in hands-on biomedical educational programs. The artists’ work explores the commonalities between the disciplines of art and science in terms of elements such as discovery, exploration, observation and intuition.
The exhibit is on display at the institution’s Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation. In addition to showcasing the works of the artists-in-residence, the “Art Meets Science 2017: Bridging Disciplines” exhibit also focuses on the process of creation: how artists are inspired by their interactions with scientists and vice versa. The documentation of this process — through journals, laboratory notebooks, sketches, photographs and the comments of artists and scientists — is the highlight of the exhibit.
MDI Biological Laboratory artist-in-residence Donald V. Rainville (center) “embedded” with students in a course at the laboratory. Rainville’s work and that of three other 2017 MDI Biological Laboratory artists-in-residence will be featured in the “Art Meets Science 2017: Bridging Disciplines” exhibit.
The 2017 MDI Biological Laboratory artists-in-residence are:
Susan Camp, Winterport — Camp is a printmaker, sculptor and adjunct professor of art at the University of Maine. Her work reflects her concern and fascination with the manipulation of species in a landscape dominated by corporate farming. For the past decade she has been constraining and manipulating growing gourds in molds she makes from construction materials and doll forms. The resulting hybrid gourd forms have individual mutations determined by the struggle of a fruit that is growing within constraints.
Cheryl M. Coffin, Surry — Coffin has spent many years at the intersection of art and science. She is retired from Vanderbilt Medical School, where she was an academic surgical and pediatric pathologist. During her medical career, she found that studio art tapped into a “common zone of creativity” that informed her writing and research. Her diagnostic skills were also fostered by her interest in art history. Her artwork is inspired by landscape and seascape, aerial topographic views and macroscopic and microscopic cellular images.
J.K. Putnam, Southwest Harbor — Putnam is an editorial, outdoor and documentary photographer who teaches photography on Mount Desert Island. His work has been published in dozens of photography and design books and in mainstream publications such as Wired and National Geographic. Since 2014, he has been shortlisted every year, in multiple categories, in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition held by the Natural History Museum, London. His work includes images of the natural and modern worlds on five continents.
Donald V. Rainville, Camden — Rainville experiments with color and diverse materials to produce landscapes of “abstractrealism.” He paints in house oils using torn shapes of lightweight cardboard and plant clippings rather than brushes. His “treescapes” are inspired by Maine and New England forests. He likens his painting process to the orchestration of visual music. His aim is for his work to inspire an unconscious instinct in viewers to use all of their senses, not just sight.
The artists were selected by exhibit curator and artist-in-residence program coordinator, Annette Carvajal, founder of the Mount Desert Island-based group Art in Public Spaces, for their interest in the intersections between art and science.
The 2016 exhibit, A Fresh Field of Life: Artists, Naturalists and the Vision for Acadia, included artist and scientist collaborations, one between artist Robyn Ellenbogen and scientists Kevin Strange, Ph.D., and Dustin Updike, Ph.D., and one between artist Linda Rowell-Kelley and Jane Disney, Ph.D.
The 2015 exhibit—“Is it Art or is it Science?”—featured forty Maine, national, and international artists, including collaborations between artist Kimberly Callas and scientist Jim Coffman, Ph.D., and artist Beth Pfeiffer and scientist Ben King, Ph.D. The sculptures of James Wolfe and Jens Zorn, Ph.D., were also highlighted.
The 2014 exhibit featured the work of 43 artists as well as collaborations between artists Ed Nadeau and Liz Cutler and scientists Aric Rogers and Sandra Rieger, respectively. The sculptures of David Sywalski and Melita Westerlund were also highlighted.
Twenty-three Maine artists participated in the 2013 exhibit. Artists Ben Lincoln, Nancy Manter, and Katherine Noble Churchill collaborated with scientists Dustin Updike, Voot Yin, and Jane Disney, respectively.