twisted and seedy bacteria – you are streptococci

I work H. Pylori bacteria a few weeks ago so why do I feel the need to mess with Streptococcus? Bacteria is bacteria – or is it? Maybe it’s all about location…

Strepto from Ancient Greek: streptós, means easily twisted, pliant. Coccus from Modern Latin: coccus, from Ancient Greek: kókkos, translates to grain, seed, berry.

My painting goes through too many mutations for several reasons including that at times I don’t care for the look and feel of the surface, the heavy line work is not a preference and again, I discover filters.

Streptococci (plural) forms in pairs or chains. My compositions focus on their spherical quality, otherwise you’d see connecting chain-like or bead-like forms moving across the picture plane.

I work with smooth mylar to play with the translucent quality and glossy surface. What am I thinking to lay in a gesso black ground? Everything goes opaque, contrast is high and I lose a natural lightness. I rework and overwork.

Frustrated, it feels right to cut the bacteria out and seal it into a petri-dish. I enjoy holding it (with my cotton gloves).

The internal structure of streptococcus bacteria.

The external structure of streptococcus bacteria.

A few weeks ago a friend comments about streptococcus bacteria and its relationship to heart problems (aortic valve). It leaves an impression. I know then I’ll draw the bacteria.

Streptococci can live in the mouth, nose, throat, upper respiratory tract, intestine, genital tract, and on the skin. Particular strains can cause pink eye, meningitis, endocarditis and necrotizing fasciitis. Its trouble causing span feels much too broad, from the not so serious to the deadly serious. It surprises me to learn its nonmotile. It doesn’t move?! (Unlike H. Pylori with its flagella.)

I do move…
Yesterday, I don’t like these studies. Today, is a brand new day and I like them after all. Next: Fungi.


PS: I can’t write very much about the microorganisms I study. While I understand some things in general, I don’t understand things in particular. It’s a whole new (microscopic) world.

I look at microbiota – in hope of gaining insight into the human microbiome.  I hear microbial cells, in and on our body, outnumber our human cells 10-1 (statistics seem to vary – what do I know).  But what does this all mean in terms of our genes? What rules – the human or the microbial?

The most valuable thing that happens as I continue to work is I make connections to things I understand or thought I understood.  Let’s see how it works itself out of me.

In the meantime, I love the tiny stuff I’m drawing. I just wish I’d gone bigger with the microorganisms. I tell my drawing students regularly – it’s easier to work large than it is to work small. Right now I feel like the latter is the only thing I know for certain (but this too can change).

gene with a protein coat

All living things need their instruction manual (even nonliving things like viruses) and that is all they need, carried in one very small suitcase.
L.L. Larison Cudmore

The capsid, a protein shell, holds DNA.

Epstein-Barr, a microscopic organism of the Virus family, A.K.A. EBVand most commonly known as the human herpesvirus.

The microscopic organism known to cause mononucleosis (glandular fever) is also associated to a variety of cancers, autoimmune diseases as well as neurological (brain) disorders.

Virus, from Latin, means slimy-liquid poison or poisonous-noxious liquid. Is there a need for this microscopic organism, that has to hijack living cells (ours!) to replicate itself, to exist? Every single time I look for information about EBV (or viruses in general) I feel myself go down a rabbit hole.

EBV (in petri-dish)

I want to draw…

I enjoy the variety of mark-making the slimy-liquid poison allows.
I do feel a need to keep the composition contained.

Structure of EBV (in petri-dish).

The final study expresses both external and internal structures of the virus. I set DNA inside the nucleocapsid (protein shell with a geometric design) and include the viral matrix (colorful clusters of more protein).

I take the design and play with it. All the while I wonder why a virus that appears to become more aggressive with time, still exists.

Gene with a protein coat – Organism at the edge of life…Did humans create you? Are humans strengthening you? Are you alive or not? Can we put an end to you? Will we put an end to you? When?

a bacterium – the coiled gatekeeper

Meet Helicobacter pylori, AKA H. pylori – a bacterium found in the mucous lining of the stomach (in at least 50% -60% of the world’s population).

External (top image) and internal (bottom image) study of H. pylori bacteria.

Helicobacter from the Greek, means spiral or coil. Pylori related to pylouros, the opening or junction leading from the stomach into the duodenum, also from the Greek, translates to gatekeeper.

My studies include bacterial cell basics: plasma membrane, cell wall, ribosomes, cytoplasm and nucleoid (no enclosed nucleus).

H.Pylori: external (top), internal structures (bottom)

I remember once-upon-a-time studying single-celled organisms. I always liked the word flagella and still it manages to get my attention (determines compositional layout). The whip-like appendages support locomotion (moving, pushing, swimming) and are also sensitive to temperature and chemistry.

I wonder – in the case of  H. pylori – should this particular microorganism really be on the move? 

Flagella – a whip-like appendage.

I work from images that include the pili (another cool word…related to pilus and Latin for hair) while other photos suggest the bacteria to be a smooth coil. In each study I take liberty with color and I include the hair-like pili in one drawing, for the added rhythmic line and texture.

Some of my favorite bacteria (in name only) have a lot in common (of course they do, they’re bacteria). To my untrained (in bacteria) eyes (perhaps even to the trained eye) my study of H. pylori could resemble E-Coli. Perhaps one might even pass for Lactobacillus and another for Salmonella.

As my study evolves – Surface of bacteria

The human body (yours and mine) is home to loads of (100 trillion) bacteria.  We host colonies of microorganisms! They live in us and on us.

Are they harmful? They can be. Are they beneficial? They might be. For example, H. pylori in the stomach can lead to duodenal ulcers and stomach cancer. Did I mention this particular bacteria adapts to an acidic environment? Note – it does not always produce disease.

Process photos… study continues to evolve…internal structure of bacteria

I think about the creative process a lot, laying out careful design only to sometimes rub it out quickly. It is, for me, a continuous mix of control and freedom.

Helicobacter pylori, Coiled Gatekeeper, are you a natural expression of the creative process?


Back in the studio…
I am in the stomach with this bacteria. I plan to look at viruses, fungi and archaea too. Let’s see where they take me. At some point I will be returning to the brain – with a new perspective.
#GutBrainAxis #Microbiome

art and science

Creativity is essential to the scientific process.


Do you know there is an International Society for Evolution, Medicine and Public Health?
→ #ISEMPH2018 

Today I know more about Evolution Medicine than I do the Spring day back in March when I meet with Joe Alcock, here in Phoenix. By the time that Saturday afternoon is over, I have an invite to attend ISEMPH’s summer conference in Park City, Utah.

I can’t make it but my compositions will … make an appearance.

Joe selects a number of artworks to use for posters supporting various conference topics. Director Janice Mancuso invites me to send my line of coasters using the specific works (and hands!…she likes the hands with the eyeball embedded into the palm).

I would have learned so much…


Listening to → Joe’s Evolution Medicine Podcasts, I come across this ↑ one morning. Maybe you recognize Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life and to the right is my artwork ‘Portrait of Sara – Head in Profile, Arms Akimbo’. #Cool #WhereArtMeetsScience

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
– Charles Darwin


where art and science intersect

The title to this post is the direction I plan to take a 7-minute talk yesterday.  I discuss both art and science, but I never do say they intersect in my studio – every single day. It’s true. They do.

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I am among 4 people Michelle Dock invites to take part in a STEAM themed panel for the annual AZ SciTech conference, held at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. The general focus for the conference is STEM. I am there to bring ART into the conversation.

Michelle makes introductions. I walk center stage and greet the audience ready to begin -and the only person in my mind, at that moment, is Leonard Da Vinci. I let go of my opening line and talk about him. He designed a tank, a submarine, a flying machine and he brings perspective into the picture plane. He covers all the areas of STEM before STEM even exists. And he certainly covers STEAM. He is the archetypal Renaissance man, I say to the audience.

I don’t plan to begin my talk with Leonardo, but it feels right. Truth is, along with old and new medical illustration books, microscopic photographs and videos – his anatomy study is always somewhere on my drawing table.

From Leonardo I return to the 21st century and introduce my Cell/Map of Phoenix (no photo) and naturally follow with the recently completed Portrait of Sophie, a Study of Trisomy 21. Cell structure, the nucleus, chromosomes, DNA and genes are the connecting threads. I look at her for a good while before I can say anything. I’m struck by how large and bright the form stands on the screen in front of me.

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And because I have two minutes to spare, I gather my thoughts and end with my work on mylar,  Anatomy of the Thorax (anterior and posterior view),  influenced by a Gunther von Hagens’ dissection. I refer to him as the Body World’s guy. I can tell by their reaction, the audience knows who he is.  Do they know he’s influenced by Rembrandt? Gunther always appears in public with a fedora, in honor of the painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicloaes Tulip.

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Can someone tell me why it isn’t STEAM all the time? Art is a powerful language communicating via line, color, texture, form, repetition and all the other elements of design. It enters into all the other fields. If Leonardo was alive today, it would be no other way. Maybe that’s why he takes over my brain…

So … Where do art and science intersect? In my studio, on my drawing table, on my paper and canvas – each and everyday!

Also on the panel:
Michelle Dock, Tempe Center for the Arts (Moderator)
Catyana Falsetti (Forensic Artist)
Dianne Hansford, PhD (Special Modeling)
Konrad Rykaczewski, PhD (Biomimicry)


You have a few more days to catch STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics) at the Tempe Center for the Arts. It closes this Saturday, Sept 17th.

pseudo science – a group exhibition

Pseudo Science highlights the work of artists fascinated by science and technology, and whose work has a scientific or technological bent – but is not scientifically accurate.  The work of the artists invited reflects, mimics, or implies a scientific or technological exploration, but in reality is not an absolute scientific rendering, conclusion or explanation.

The exhibit  includes painting/drawing, sculpture, mixed media and performance. Pseudo Science will coincide with the annual Arizona SciTech Festival.

Artists include Christopher Caulfield, Timothy Chapman, Bill Dambrova, Casey Farina, Steve Gompf, Hilary Harp and Barry Moon, Mary Lucking, Monica Aissa Martinez and performance by Babs A’Delic.

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©Bill Dambrova
Just Passing Through
Scientific skeleton model, pom
poms, mirror, polychromed wood, and glitter
36″x36″x108

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Hilary Harp & Barry Moon
Thermal Image
Wood, thermochromic film, motors, music boxes etc.
2013

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Timothy Chapman
The Darrsman Effect in Hymenoptera
Acrylic on panel
36×48″

frontal lobe pseudo science chris table with bones sculptures

Chris Caulfield
Tiny animal skull and bone sculptures
on recycled hardwood bases

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Steve Gompf’

Monica Aissa Martinez Male Front Body (detail) MM on Paper 96" x 60"

Monica Aissa Martinez
Male Front Body (detail)
MM on Paper
96″ x 60″

WHAT:     Pseudo Science – a group exhibition
WHERE:  Frontal Lobe Community Space and Gallery
in Bragg’s Pie Factory
1301 Grand Avenue
Phoenix, AZ
WHEN:     February 7th (1st Friday)
February  21st (3rd Friday)
By appointment (602.391.4016) – the month of February 2014

Curated by Beatrice Moore.

→ Map
RSVP →  Facebook invite. Take a look at this invite and see the artist studio visits and installation shots Beatrice Moore included.

This exhibit is free and open to the public.
Join us next week.

edge of knowledge; a bit of science, a bit of music

A few  odds and ends about this weekend, I feel are worth mentioning…

There is lots going on in the area this weekend.
The usual First Friday gallery openings, in the downtown Phoenix art scene, will be getting on in a few hours.
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And…Arizona State University is currently having an Origins Symposium.
Science. I very much connect art and science. A couple of my favorite reads Art and Physics by Leonard Shlain, and  On Creativity by David Bohm.

 

Questions of origins resonate across all academic disciplines and among the general public because they directly confront the mysteries associated with our existence, our past, and our future. Click on this link  Origins Symposium to inform yourself about the various speakers, including Stephen Hawking,  and all the events.

 


If there were no paintings in the world,
Mine would be very important.
Same with the songs.
Since this is not the case, let us make haste to get in line,
Well towards the back.

If There Were No Painting by Leonard Cohen

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And on a musical note: Leonard Cohen will be performing at the Dodge Theater this coming Sunday.
How did we ever get so lucky? It’s my understand that this is his first performance tour in 15 years. Phoenix will have the opportunity to experience beautiful cynicism.

The Curator has called this exhibition
Drawn to Words.
I call my work
Acceptable Decorations.

If There Were No Paintings by Leonard Cohen