Now that I have joined the SciArt Center Bridge Residency program, I will be writing weekly blog posts about my progress in collaborating with Darcy Johnson. The posts will be published on the program website and I will be re-posting them here to continue using my blog for tracing the development of my art over time. In the first post, I introduce myself and provide a peek at what makes me interested in SciArt. It has been a while since I last wrote about this topic and it will serve as a good refresher for people who may not have seen some of my earlier posts.
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I am very honored and excited to join the SciArt Center Residency. When I was applying to the program, I was unsure which side would be a better fit for me. I am “a scientist by day and an artist by night”. While I enjoy the rigorous process of scientific research, art serves as my creative outlet. I grew up doing all sorts of artwork, which in retrospect I could call mixed media. It was my favorite way to spend my free time.
At the same time, I was getting very interested in biology and neuroscience in particular, which led me to choosing it as my major in college. I have always thought of the brain as the most fascinating part of our bodies. After a short period of considering to go to medical school, I decided that it wasn’t for me and that “I would rather be dealing with test tubes than with patients”; which at the time seemed to closely resemble the solitary activity of creating art.
I went to graduate school and chose a project that evolved from studying neuronal differentiation and maturation to central nervous regeneration after injury. My research involved a lot of fluorescence microscopy, which really opened up my eyes to the literal beauty of science and the nervous system in particular. In the recent years, I decided to merge my two passions and began recreating images of cells, by modifying french beading techniques that are typically used for creating beaded flowers.
Given that I have mainly practiced art as a side hobby, I would love to use this residency as an opportunity to learn about the more extensive process that professional artists go through. I want to find out how artists come up with their ideas and if/how they systematize their creative process. How much is that process led by logic vs. intuition? I am particularly intrigued by finding out the reasons why an artist would choose a scientific subject for their work. After attending talks and exhibits by SciArt Center and LASER Talks, and hearing how art and science can inform each other, I would like to see firsthand what art can contribute to science beyond depicting and communicating the findings.
Over the last few years, there has been a large movement in making science more accessible to the public. From educational initiatives like organizing publicly accessible scientific laboratories (i.e. Genspace), to laughable actions such as injecting oneself with GFP or CRISPR, science is becoming more mainstream. However, there is a fine line between breaking down the image of a crazy scientist and providing information that may be a bit difficult to understand and apply. And misunderstanding can lead to poor judgments and opinions. One example of this was the entertaining story of a shrimp on a treadmill, where scientists were mistakenly accused of wasting the taxpayers’ dollars.
Therefore, science may need to be presented in bite-size pieces and in a way that would be both interesting and visually appealing to the general audience. Therefore, I would like to explore how art can make scientific topics interesting and understandable to the public.
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I invite you to follow me in this journey by checking out my Instagram account. If you would like to see more of my behind the scenes work, please consider contributing to my Patreon page. Unlike some other similar programs, this is not a paid residency and I would be extremely grateful if you could offer your support for the time and materials needed for this project. Thank you so very much!