BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Amanda White

Tomato Plants

I am revisiting a mutual relationship that exists between mammals and their food plants. To do this, I incorporate the natural seed dispersal actions of a fruit-eating mammal (or frugivore) into the human process of food crop cultivation.

I am growing plants from the seeds of cherry tomatoes that I first purchased from the grocery store, ate, and which then became deposited in my waste. The seeds were subsequently harvested from my waste by hand and grown into fruiting plants. I am continuing the cycle by eating and growing further generations of the same tomatoes. The first generation of plants were grown in-doors over the fall and winter of 2011-2012.

The process of this project illustrates the process of seed scarification -the way in which seeds travel through the digestive system of an animal in order to be broken down and prepared for germination and growth. This is an important process in ecology, as it allows for seed dispersal and plant diversity.

The use of urine and feces as plant fertilizers and compost materials are also common in our farming practices and yet are seen as the work of animals, not humans. The Frugivore project emphasizes our human bodies as animal bodies, with the potential to perform similar tasks and behave symbiotically with other organisms in our environment.

BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Stephen Surlin

Microorganisms, Computer, Speakers, Video Monitors

microcompositions is a musical installation and a collaborative composition, performed in collaboration with some of the microorganisms that live in Windsor’s complex and rare ecosystems.

The video documentation features the steps that lead to the musical composition including gathering the microorganisms from around Windsor and recording their movements under the microscope. A second video presents the musical performance created by the microorganisms in collaboration with Surlin’s object tracking software.

BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Tina Suntres

Chia on form

The objective of this project was to show how plants could be used as an optimal bioart medium. There are many reasons why this is so. Plants are vital – producing the necessary oxygen and nutrients for animal life to flourish on earth. Utilizing plants instead of tissues in bioart reduces the need for many of the animal byproducts used in labs. They can be grown into many shapes and they do not need to be disposed of as a biohazard after the piece is displayed. Plants are often overlooked during debates that question the ethics of utilizing living materials in art because they are not conscious.

Exhibiting chia in the form of a person helped anthropomorphize it into something that could be perceived as living and breathing so people could relate to it. It took the chia a week to grow on paper towels, similar to the length of time that is required to grow skin grafts. The chia sheets were then pinned onto a human form. The form is exhibited along with photographs, one of which shows the chia BIOman with a tomato. The intention is to bring the concept full circle and as such it represents how we are what we eat, with plants being the main source of nutrients.

BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Natalie Nadeau

Second hand doilies, Petri dishes, agar, bacteria, fungi, reconstructed lab table

Inheritance is a work compromised of five oversized Petri dishes, hosting bacteria and fungus covered doilies. Each second hand doily is submerged into an agar solution, which is the ‘culture medium’ that encourages bacterial and fungal growth. This process has been active for a number of months.

The crocheted doilies embody a strong and perhaps forgotten sense of domestic and social heritage; embedded in their social fabric are the individuals who once utilized the doilies for their intended purpose, as well as the artisans who purposefully crafted each one with the skills and knowledge learned from the past. By not sanitizing each doily prior to use, bacteria and fungus are able to inherit the thread of each crocheted motif, allowing a possible link to each doily’s historical ancestry. The collision of microorganisms with symmetrical domestic surface treatments reveals the ties between certain formations found in the colonies of bacteria and fungi and traditionally crocheted thread stitches. Each specimen is an investigation into generational lineage, geometric formation and unknown origins.

BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Brandon Lemire


Open reduction internal plantation
Digital print

intramedullary Die-Section
Digital print

fractured growth
Digital print

In my work I explore different states of vulnerably in relation to man and the environment.  I am interested in the discourse between the biology of nature and human anatomy.  My time spent working in the operating room as a surgical technologist has given me a great appreciation for what the human body endures in order to survive traumatic events and life altering illnesses.

These experiences can be related to the unsterile world outside of the hospital setting in how we as humans interact with the planet. I believe it to be possible that humans are in fact an illness or a traumatic event, imposing our will on the earth.  Humans can be categorized as parasites that are slowly devouring the planet that supplies them with sustenance.

To comment on this subject I create drawings and juxtapose them with surgical instruments used during a particular surgical procedure and the blood and tissue of the human body that are revealed during the surgery. The outcome is a strategically arranged, three dimensional, mixed media composition that is then photographed.

BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Amanda LaFlamme

Beauty and the Yeast
Bread, Plexiglass, Wood

This piece was created using the historical and biotechnological process of mixing flour, water, salt, and yeast to create a mass of dough. Through fermentation, live organisms interacting within the dough created alcohol and carbon dioxide gas, which caused the dough to rise before and during baking. After baking and slicing the bread, the artist used a laser engraver to toast the words of the story into each slice. The story and the bread itself are representations of feminist issues such as the stereotyping of the female sex and gender, the empowerment of women, the contributions of women to our culture as well as the field of science, and the missed connections between these issues.

Traditionally science was male dominated yet women have been unrecognized scientists for centuries and bread making is just one example of that as baking has been seen as ‘women’s work’ yet bread making is biotechnology. Once upon a time women were legally banned from universities and ownership of property including businesses. Thus men first created women’s limitations and then used women’s perceived lack of growth and independence as proof that women were incompetent. Still today, women face economic limitations due to our patriarchal society although it is changing slowly. This representation of the link between bread making and biotechnology in the form of art symbolizes women’s resiliency and resourcefulness. What men have done with riches, women have done with their scraps.

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.

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?

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.

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.