BioArt: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences

VSAR 3860 BIOART: Contemporary Art and The Life
Dr. Jennifer Willet

Course Objectives: BioArt: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences is an innovative course that will allow for non-specialist students to engage theoretically and practically in the biological sciences towards fostering a critical participatory engagement with the biological sciences from a fine art perspective. This course is a visual art and science crossover lab intended for students from various disciplines to foster interdisciplinary exploration of the intersections between art and life through hands-on laboratory protocols, critical readings, and the production of contemporary artwork.

Together we will explore the ethical debates, issues of access and accountability, and overspecialization that arise from contemporary biotechnologies and bioart practices. Lectures will address a range of topics including; the biological sciences, historical crossovers between the fine arts and the hard sciences, and contemporary artists in the art/science field. Practical workshops will provide students with introductory experience with mammalian tissue culture, microscopy, DNA extraction and imaging, and genetic modification (amongst others) with an emphasis on health and safety and proper laboratory technique.

No previous experience in the Biological Sciences is necessary for successful completion of the class.

Students will be expected to complete readings, participate in class discussions and lab workshops, and produce individual and collaborative artworks and critical written texts.

Course Outcomes: Students will have learned a variety of BSL1 biotechnological protocols. They will be able to successfully execute biological art projects within the lab, as well as their home. They will have exposure to scientific research conducted on the UofW campus, and a wider understanding of contemporary debates surrounding evolving biotechnologies. Additionally, students will gain further experience with group work, public speaking skills, health and safety, and critical writing skills.

There is a Lab fee of 100.00 CDN for this course. This fee will pay for all biological materials used in the class, as well as specialized biological and scientific consumables students will need to complete their individual projects. In addition, some students may choose to purchase more traditional art supplies for their individual projects – these expenses will fall to the individual student.

Click here to view the 2012 BioArt class video.


INCUBATOR Lab is an art/science laboratory at The University of Windsor. Founded in 2009, it functions both as an apparatus in which environmental conditions can be controlled towards the assisted proliferation of life, but also as a site that supports the proliferation of new ideas – new artistic practices.