This semester has been a busy one for certain. I always have a harder time in the fall with making solid work than any other time. I don't know why that is, seasonal art depression?-maybe. I feel like I'm under producing but I'm starting to work through some problems I had towards the beginning of the semester.
Working in Ashley's lab is very exciting. I even have a set of keys to joint. It comes with a lot of work and time though.
I finished my first experiment (with guidance from Ashley) but I managed to do most of everything on my own. I wanted to learn how to clear and stain specimens. Brandon Ballengee (faculty member I worked with while at SVAs artist residency this summer-and mentioned in earlier posts) often uses this techinque in his work. It creates stunning visuals. It also allows me to view a specimen in a different light, investigating the interior body and skeleton on a level not previously experienced. I was able to start the protocol from beginning to end. First, with amputating limbs from axolotls to completion of storage in glycerin. The entire process took a week. Although if my schedule wasn't as hectic as it normally is, the experiment may have been shorter. Alas, graduate school isn't so kind to my lab hours.
One thing I've been struggling with this semester is getting caught up in what the work should look like. I'm trying to please two different departments and myself. Should the art look like science? Should the science look like art? What about the concepts-art vs. science? I say that I'm still struggling with the "art product" but I'm trying to be less concerned about those catches and focus more on what the work needs to be to please me. So far this semester, I've not been too pleased with anything I've made. Regardless, all those failures are important to the process.
I've been busy working with cool people.
The past week has been busy working with and meeting really talented people. This experience is shaping up to be amazing so far. It's a little less structured than I would like. I usually get to the laboratory about 10 am but sometimes things don't usually get going until about 10:30-11ish. And the mornings are less hands on than the afternoons. Suzanne Anker or Brandon Ballengee usually start off with a presentation, discuss, or workshop in the AM - break for lunch for an hour - and come back and start doing things with our hands! Its a difficult balance of science and art. I want more art (of course) but I have to start with the science part. It's difficult for me to keep attention during the science part simply because I like to use my hands to learn and science is a bunch of big words that I have trouble pronouncing. We meet with Suzanne on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Brandon on Mondays and Wednesdays. Fridays usually consists of studio days OR an event for all the SVA residents (sculpture, installation/new media, painting, and bio-arts). The weekends are free to do as we please, recently I've been lazy and/or sightseeing on the weekends, but the weekends are about to turn into intense studio days I think.
A brief run down of what I've been doing with all these cool people at SVA.
We've been meeting with her at least once a week one-on-one to discuss our projects. Since there are 16 of us it usually takes about two days to get through all of us. We did a bacteria painting workshop with her. We used a e.coli bacteria (that is not a harmful strain) that was mixed with a florescent gene from a jellyfish. We poured the agar, waited for it to cool, then painted with the bacteria. A green and violet pigment. But its clear when you paint with it, so its like painting with invisible ink- difficult. It takes about 16-24 hours for the bacteria to grow then its visible under blacklight.
Brandon teaches part time at SVA and considers himself a scientist and artist. His bio art consists of finding amphibians that have deformities due to a bacteria in their environments that cause the extra limbs or growth to not enough limbs. So far Brandon has taught us how to stain and preserve specimens. Its really exciting and not as dangerous as I thought it would be (chemical-wise). This Wednesday we are meeting in SoHo/Chinatown to get more interesting specimens.
Joe is defiantly a scientist but has very recently begun to dabble in photography. In his scientific research he is working on neutralizing a neuron (or gene-something like that) in a squid that might help with alzheimers. Its complicated but important. I don't understand it. Joe did a microscopy workshop with us, taught us how to make one for cheap and how to use the ones we have access to in our lab.
Last Friday all SVA residents were invited to do a gallery crawl with painting professor Tobi Kahn. I don't know him well or really have the opportunity to work with him but he is interesting. I had the opportunity to see some amazing work. Jeff Koons, Anselm Kiefer, Frank Stella, and many more. The Kiefer exhibition was amazing work. I love Kiefer's work and seeing his new work in person was breathtaking. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photographs at that show, and the security there was intense. I was scolded for looking too closely.
I was thankful for the gallery walk and commentary b/c I went to some shows that I normally may not have gone to on my own.
I still hate Jeff Koons.
I am a contemporary artist focused on the intersection of art and science in Lexington, KY.