BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Ashleigh Gunter

Natural Selection
Rocks, Milk Paint, Digital Photography

My artwork has grown out of an interest in the environment, and takes a critical view of the environmental issues local to the Windsor, Ontario area. I work in several mediums, which include photography, painting and drawing – both traditional and digital, and by combining these I am able to create an organic mixture with an eclectic feeling.

I work very much in the moment, letting the materials guide me. Using natural items in my art over a traditional canvas and paint, results in a much more unpredictable outcome and requires a lot more improvisation. The combination of photography and the painting of natural materials allow me to create an earthy flow from the predictable to unpredictable.

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BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Chelsea Greenwell

Luteum Papilio; Reverence
Plexiglass, agar, bacteria, fungi, dragonfly, digital prints, light box

My work looks at the influence humans have upon the natural world and questions how we perceive our relationship to it and how we interact with it. In Lutum Papilio, I am both inspired by and interrogate the actions of bioartist Marta de Menezes in her project Nature? in which she describes having “created live butterflies where their wing patterns were modified for artistic purposes.”[1] With Lutum Papilio I sculpted butterflies out of clay to replicate the Bicyclus anynana and Heliconious melpomene species used in de Menezes’ work. These were then cast out of plastic with a vacuum sealer to replicate a Petri dish environment. After being sterilized, they received a layer of agar upon which mold formed due not only to the specific placement of bacteria, a constructed interference, but also the human interaction of handling these butterflies.

In Reverence, a piece that physically represents my thoughts on the homage we owe to our relationship with nature, I stained sections of the wings of a found dragonfly with various cell biology staining dyes, replicating the manipulation of light through stained glass. Stained glass is a way we control or enhance light, a natural phenomenon, for aesthetic means. I am asking if this is a reflection of how we, as human kind, perceive our relationship to nature.

[1] Marta de Menezes’ artist statement for Nature?

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BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Erika DuChene

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Ink, bleached animal skulls, wood mount boards

This piece is part of a series highlighting the element of death that is presented within children’s stories and fairy tales. The use of an actual skull brings the character within the story into the realm of the real and into the foreground of what is being visualized. To add to this component I added an ink illustration of the depiction of the character, as well as the other components of the story across the skull’s surfaces, personifying the character. The skulls are mounted to oversized imitation trophy mount boards to increase the glorification of the character presented by the skull component. The boards are leaned against the wall rather than being properly hung like a true hunter’s trophy would be. The story itself is burned into the boards to further engage the viewer and to add a depth of understanding and insight into the particular story. By burning the story into it and improperly hanging the board it emphasizes an element of imperfection. It’s all about the flaws within the otherwise flawless.

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BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Erica Douglas

Microscopic Makeup
Photographic Print

This piece includes four samples of makeup as they are seen under a microscope, including foundation and eye shadow. I wanted to examine the differences between what makeup would really look like as compared to the demonstrations and illustrations of it as seen in advertisements. Foundation especially is always said to have “micro beads” or similar terms, but under the microscope it looks almost alien. My hope is that a viewer wearing makeup might see the piece and re-examine what it is that she or he rubs into her or his skin each day, trusting that it is safe. The photographs of each makeup sample were taken with a digital camera attached to a microscope. I cropped the photographs to be circular as the sample plates on some laboratory slides are. The photographs were cropped and sharpened, but were not otherwise altered.

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BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Lauren DiVito

Fear Undone
Biological specimens with text

It is easy to be afraid of something concrete- blood, dogs, snakes, spiders- because they are physical beings that one can see and touch. Yet, this also makes them much easier to face if one is willing. It is those intangible worries that are inevitable in life that are much more difficult to confront because they are out of one’s control- not as easily avoided as something with substance.

Fear Undone gives my abstract anxieties – death, disease, failing- solid form as tiny text on the wings of bees, an insect that causes me great distress. These processes of seeing the words and having to place them on the specimens allowed me to literally face my fears, both physically and mentally. By reducing the size of the writing so that they can be viewed well only under magnification, I am accepting that although these worries cannot be entirely eradicated, they can be undone, given lesser value, and thus can be controlled.

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BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Bryce Clark

Dissection of a Toy Frog
Digital Photograph, mixed media

This piece is a diagram of a dissected stuffed animal that has had organs made from actual meat products inserted into it. The organ placement and appearance is based on an actual frog dissection. This piece is meant as a satirical statement on science and its place in contemporary times. Specifically this piece addresses the seriousness with which science is taken as well as the current availability of science to the general public. I use a stuffed animal as a reflection of this perception – that in today’s age science is available to almost every one of all ages, and that it is not seen as a solely an exclusive practice.

The piece mimics an actual frog dissection, a common scientific practice used at all levels of education, to make an obvious and recognizable reference easily relatable to the viewer. It makes the practice whimsical and amusing so as to dumb down the seriousness of science. One’s view of science and scientists can be cold and stoic; this piece shows that science and its practitioners can be entertaining and even comical. In conclusion this piece is a comical reflection of how we view science in current times.

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BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Kacie Auffret

Digital Prints, fox skull

Craniates is a series of images documenting the process of cleaning the skull of a fox. In these photographs I am preparing the skull by cleaning all the extra flesh off the bone. First I remove the eyes, then I cut out the tongue from the bottom of the chin, and finally I rip the jaw apart. Using a scalpel, I remove all extra flesh from the skull and place the skull into a barrel of flesh-eating beetles known as Dermestidae that finish the cleaning in approximately 48 hours. Once the skull is fully clean, I then remove it from the barrel and either bleach the skull or leave it in its natural state.

The motivation behind this performance comes from my interest in hunting, especially in the Windsor- Essex Region. The hunter goes out into the woods for days, in groups or solo, without the guarantee of a kill. If the hunter is lucky, they return with their prized animal. In Craniates, I am exploring the rituals and themes related to hunting from a feminine perspective. My main concern is to address issues relating to gender and hunting. My interest in this subject comes from my desire to explore themes related to hunting.

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Eco Nuit Parade

Saturday, October 05, 2013
7:00 pm – 7:00 am the next day
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

ECO NUIT PARADE will bring cutting edge bioart practices to the Toronto audiences through an interdisciplinary art/science parade.  Bioart is a form of contemporary art that uses living biology as its media.  The ECO NUIT PARADE will feature bioart projects that consider the local ecology from a variety of art and technology perspectives.  Our parade will be a “Night Cavalcade” utilizing illumination – digital media – and phosphorescence – to convert the downtown Toronto ecology into a menagerie of imagined, living, and semi-living organisms.  Bystanders will be encouraged to join the parade!

The ECO NUIT PARADE is a co-production between the !dea Gallery at the Ontario Science Centre and INCUBATOR Laboratory in the School for Arts and Creative Innovation at the University of Windsor, Canada.  Dr. Jennifer Willet, in collaboration with Ana Klasnja have invited a variety artists, musicians, and students to produce portable illuminated artworks investigating the complex social, technological, and environmental ecology of contemporary life in Toronto.

Building on the success of last year’s Art and Ecology Parade organized in Windsor, the ECO NUIT PARADE will take to the streets of Toronto.  A Tent home base for the parade will reside on the front lawn of Toronto’s CAMH on Queen Street where the public will be able to interact with parade participants, and see the portable exhibits up close.  At 9:00 pm, 1:00 am, and 5:00 am members of the public will be asked to join the parade marching a 30 min parade.  Musicians and the public will join approx. 30-40 artists and performers. Costumes will glow in the dark!  Devices will emit sound and light!  Spectators eager to join the parade will be given masks, streamers, noisemakers, and take-home lab experiments.

Co-Curated by Ana Klasnja (OCS) and Dr. Jennifer Willet (UofW).

Featured Artists Include:

Rhythmic by Nature

Roberta Buiani and Lisa Carrie Goldberg

Amy Rae
‘GEOFFE the Dragon’

Harmony Pillon
‘Mapping Bits of Canada: Pacific-Atlantic’

Arturo Herrera
‘My Glowing Identity’

Amy Swartz
Excerpt from “Pest”

Special Thanks to: Ana Klasnja, Pearl Van Geest, Kevin Von Appen, Sabrina Greupner, Catherine Harris, Ken Giles, Julia Bennett, Leo Groarke, David Bussiere, Wendy Bedard, Karen Engel, Sherri Lynne Menard, Mike Darroch, Stephen Fields, Teresa Carlesimo, Amanda White, Lauren DiVito, Kacie Auffret, Cylita Guy, Talha Sadiq, Raki Malhotra, Aurelia Engstrom, Gillian Thomas, Filip Miscevic, Derek Hartley, Carl Dixon, Bharati Singh, Laura Service, Kasey D.

Project Assistant: Pearl Van Geest

Parade Construction/Designer Assistant: Billie Mclaughlin

Video Director: Owen Eric Wood

Photographer: Kim Breland

Species Poster Design: Nicole Beno

Faculty Chaperone: Dr. Dr. Ken Giles

University of Windsor Participants: Aaron Moran, Laura Service, Paul Rae, Aaron King, Don Demers, Faliciah Dumoulin, Emily Regnier, Béla Varga, Tania Palcong, Carissa Fontana, Melissa Marchant, Natalie Gaudet, Alyssa Rigney, Brandon Turnbull, Justin Elliott, Elayna Rajsigl, Kristy Cons, Rain Farooqi, Mark Gasparovic, Xiaoxiao Zhang, Amelia Herceg, Lauren Reaume, Han Wang, Kristina Greco, Adam Setosta, Caleigh Arthur, Domenica Mediati, Ben Hajdu, Patrick Bodnar, Isabella Cheng, Miranda Lauzon, Stephanie Guthrie, Amy Thomson, Bryce Clark, Laura Laframboise, Klaudia Sarninska, Lucas Straszak, Ashley Zucchet, Juan Pablo Gomez, Areen Young, Ali Dudharm.

Sponsors include: INTERMINUS Research Group, University of Windsor, Ontario Science Centre, CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), Rhythmic by Nature, Toronto Therapy Dogs.

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BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences

BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences
October 05, 2013 – Feb 02, 2013
!dea Gallery, Ontario Science Centre
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Exhibition Website:














Science, Art and Ecology intersect in the Ontario Science Centre’s !dea Gallery from October 5, 2013 to February 2, 2014 during an innovative exhibition showcasing the work of thirteen Bioart students from the University of Windsor’s Incubator Lab.  Founded by Dr. Jennifer Willet in 2009, Incubator is a hybrid laboratory where students research and explore ideas and practices in the leading-edge field of bioart. An art installation in its own right, the exhibition will form a panoramic view of the laboratory as the background for the art works of the students.

The work selected is challenging, thought provoking and presents a diversity of conceptual positions. The exhibition encompasses photography, sculpture, installation, painting and drawing as well as more unconventional art forms. The biological component that, overt or subtle, is contained within each work is similarly wide ranging, from bacteria and fungus encased in resin to plants that will continue to grow during the course of the exhibition.

Co-Curated by: Ana Klasnja and Dr. Jennifer Willet

Special Thanks to:

Ana Klasnja, Pearl Van Geest, Leo Groarke, Kevin Von Appen, Sabrina Greupner, Karen Engel, Mike Darroch, Lauren DiVito, Kacie Auffret, Arturo Herrera, Eric Owen Wood, Michael Cornett, Andy Rauer, Michael Leslie, John McLachlin, Gail Collins, Justin Collins, Julia Bennett, Ken Huxley, Glenn McIntosh, Chris Fenwick, Craig Allen, Tim Cooey.

Sponsors include: University of Windsor, Ontario Science Centre, INTERMINUS Research Group.

Project coordination by Pearl Van Geest.

Laboratory photography and student portraits by Arturo Herrera.

INCUBATOR video by Eric Owen Wood.

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Yeast Workshops

Yeast BioART Workshops hosted by INCUBATOR Lab
Jennifer Willet

Yeast are single cell organisms that are probably one of the earliest domesticated organisms in terms of human technology. The yeast species Saccharomyces Cerevisiae has been used in baking and fermenting alcoholic beverages for thousands of years. It is also extremely important as a model organism in modern cell biology research, and is the most thoroughly researched eukaryotic microorganism. Researchers have used it to gather information into the biology of the eukaryotic cell and ultimately human biology.

The goal of this workshop is for participants to cultivate samples of yeast from their local environment – to grow these samples over a few days at home – allowing participants to see for themselves organisms that are usually not visible to the naked eye. This lab serves to remind us that our civic environment is a complex ecology teeming with life in many forms.

Participants will receive a brief introduction to contemporary BioART practices, and information on yeast. They will lean how to make Potato Dextrose Agar (the medium required for cultivating yeast) with ingredients purchased from grocery stores; How to swab yeast samples from their surroundings; and sterile technique. They will receive a brief introduction to biosafety – and finally create their own bioart project growing yeast in concert with other materials.

This lab is rated BSL1 no known harm to humans, in other words a kitchen grade experiment appropriate for audiences of a variety of ages.

Video Documentation of the WAAG Amsterdam Yeast Workshop in June 2013 by Zoot Derks and Jeanette Groenendaal.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

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