Microbial Life in Mud

Workshop Lead by artist Nicole Clouston
Hosted through InterAccess
Written by: Ashley Hemmings

On Saturday October 24th, INCUBATOR Art Lab team member Ashley attended a workshop titled Microbial Life in Mud, presented by Nicole Clouston and hosted through InterAccess. In this workshop participants learned how to create living sculptures that will continue grow and change over time to reveal the microbial colonies that live in mud. The workshop started with an artist talk by Nicole Clouston who spoke about her own practice of collecting mud samples and cultivating the microorganisms to a point where they become visible to humans without the aid of a microscope. In her talk she spoke about the piece as a collaboration between herself and the communities of microbes that she not only cares about but also cares for.


In the workshop participants combined paper and eggs to make a kind of microbe food, and then layered this into clear glass containers with their personal collected mud samples, creating a self-contained eco-system in which the microbes could thrive. In conversation after the workshop, participants considered the power dynamics of microbe and human relationships, the ethics of taking living things from their natural environments for art, and potentialities for interspecies communication.


About the Artist:
Nicole Clouston is a practice-based researcher and teacher who recently completed her Ph.D. in Visual Art at York University in Toronto. In her practice, she asks: What happens when we acknowledge, through an embodied experience, our connection to a world teeming with life both around and inside us? Nicole has exhibited across Canada and internationally, most recently in Detroit, Michigan. She was the artist in residence at the Coalesce Bio Art Lab at the University at Buffalo and the artist in residence at Idea Projects: Ontario Science Centre’s Studio Residencies at MOCA

Her work can be found at www.nicoleclouston.com

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Image Credit:
1. Nicole Clouston, Lake Ontario Portrait, Polycarbonate, mud, and microbes, 2017- present.
2. - 4. Ashley Hemmings, Microbial Life in Mud, InterAccess, 2020.