The creative process

After settling on creating “Mapping Manhattan”, this week I finally got a chance to go out and buy some supplies, including a canvas and beads.  I painted the canvas with black paint (though it ended up looking a bit like wood in the photo) to create the background that is typical for fluorescence microscopy images.  When shopping for beads, I had an internal debate on whether I should stay true to my method of using small seed beads for recreating all “pixels” in the image; or if I should choose the bead type based on the shapes present in the actual image.  I ended up choosing so called “rondelle” beads, which have multiple faces, to recreate the yellow nuclei scattered across the image. I also purchased bright purple beads for the occasional cells that Darcy pseudo-colored this way in the image. Unfortunately, the light blue beads that are required for the majority of the cells in the image were backordered.

I began by studying the image (which we later discussed with Darcy as an important step in creating art) and soon realized that there were too many yellow nuclei for me to feasibly fit on the canvas.  This made me think of a conversation I had with another artist earlier this year. After looking at my works “Tortured” and “All Wrapped Up”, he asked me about how I decide which parts of a microscopy image to include and which to leave out.  At the time, my gut instinct was to say that I include everything. However, this is not always feasible.

Coincidentally, I began to work “Mapping Manhattan” project soon after attending the “Infinite Potentials” exhibit organized by the SciArt Center. There, I spoke with several artists, who described an element of entropy that goes into creating their work, presumably mimicking the partially random chains of events that occur in nature.  Similar to what I have heard before, they spoke about allowing the artwork to lead the artist, rather than the other way around. My scientific mindset struggled to understand. Yet, when I looked at the almost insurmountable amount of elements in Darcy’s image and thought of the question about leaving out certain elements, I decided to compromise.   Therefore, I chose certain geometrical combinations of nuclei, which I called “motifs”, and used them as guidelines for creating a semi-random distribution of rondelle beads representing the nuclei. While trying to stay true to the overall composition, I realized that they ended up taking slightly different positions relative to each other than in the original image, but I guess that is OK.  In contrast to some of my previous works, I am looking forward to working with one color at a time, layering and developing the piece over time in all 3 dimensions.  

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