Tuesday, March 8, 2016

SciArt, women and wunderkammers

my linocut portraits of women in STEM, left to right, top to bottom:
Hypatia, Skłodowska-Curie, Nightingale, Atkins, Leavitt, Jemison, Merian and Lamarr

my linocut portraits of women in STEM, left to right, top to bottom:
Anning, Wu, Lovelace, Lehmann, Kovalevski, Tharp, Bell (Burnell), Meitner, Herschel

I'm sharing my women in STEM portraits for International Women's Day today. We're fresh off the second annual #SciArt tweetstorm, which is rapidly becoming a fabulous institution on Twitter. For the second year, the first week of March has been a celebration of the place where art and science intersect - everything from technical drawings and data visualizations to comics to fine art in all media to textiles and fashion and basically, whatever you can imagine. It's a great way to find like-minded creators and share your work, brought to us by the great team at the Symbiartic blog on Scientific American.

Like other participants I'm really thankful for this opportunity to connect with a greater audiance. This just blows my mind. I've shared my leaf prints before and usually get great feedback, a few favorites and retweets, but during the tweetstorm this was the response:

Though my friend @faunalia likes to think I'm some sort of craft celebrity, I'm not remotely famous and 107 retweets and 130 favorites are astronomical numbers for me! The tweetstorm brought my art to the eyes of chemists and plant scientists. It really has the power to help bring people together and forge a SciArt community.

Some SciArt from TEST teammates: The Vexed Muddler,
Slashpile Designs, nanopod, The Chemist Tree, Honey Thistle,
HOPSCOTCH, Tanya Harrison Photo and Wild Whimsy Woolies
During February, the Toronto Etsy Street Team did a daily #WeBeTEST Instagram challenge, and that too was great for community building. On Valentine's we shared some love of our teammates work and amongst other things, I wrote about other science-artists on the team. I've long been a fan of the otherworldly jewellery and sculpture metal and glasswork of Tosca from nanopod. You can see that Haeckel is a influence to her too, along with myth and some of the more astounding natural history. You can find radiolarians, jellyfish and other biomorphic forms in her work. She's decided to add a some retail to her studio and teaching space Nanotopia (322 Harbord St, at Grace). She's invited Honey Thistle and Never Wares and I to also sell a cabinet of curiosity of items, along with her works, minerals, fossils, bones, taxidermy and other strange ephemera! So I brought her some small prints of weird (real and imaginary) creatures as well as some stuffed animals (extant and extinct) today. Next week, two women from Brooklyn's Morbid Anatomy Museum and Evolution store will be in town and teaching Entomology 101 and Jackalope and Squirrel taxidermy mounts at Nanotopia. The retail space is planned to coincide with their visit March 11 -13. If you're in the neighbourhood you should go check it out! To be honest, this is pretty well my definition of cool and it was all I could do not to squeal with delight and act like I'm a professional grown-up doing something normal and every day, because how cool is that?

This is a photo I took of the window of Evolution, NYC, June 18, 2011
The Morbid Anatomy blog, by the way,  is somewhere you could loose hours of your life if you too are inspired by the intersection of art and science, or love magpie&whiskeyjack but wish it were more gothic.

Tosca said she would like more stuffed things and I think I really must make tardigrades. By the way, I printed a linocut tardigrade last week. If you don't know, these mighty microscopic creatures of 0.5 mm (0.02") maximum in length are found in environments from mountaintops to the deep sea, from tropical rain forests to the Antarctic, and can survive conditions leathal to most other animals including: temperature ranges from near absolute zero 1 K (−458 °F; −272 °C) to about 420 K (300 °F; 150 °C); roughly six times the pressures found in the deepest oceanic trenches on Earth; ionizing radiation at dosages hundreds of times what would kill a mere human; the vaccuum of space. That's right; these animals have been to outer space and lived to tell the tale (or, at least lived and had someone tell the tale). The can go without food for 30 years, dehydrate, and then just rehydrate and go about their lives.
Tardigrade, linocut 8.5" x 11" on Japanese paper, Ele Willoughby, 2016

Tardigrades have short, plump legs and are prevalent in mosses and lichens and feed on plant cells, algae, and small invertebrates, hence their second nickname in case "water bear" isn't cute enough for you: the moss piglet. Tardigrades have been around at least 530 million years to the Cambrian. Don't you think it would make a cuddly plushie?

When you're done catching up on the #SciArt hashtag on Twitter, be sure to look up #5womenartists - another great one for this #WomensHistoryMonth. It occurs to me that all the work I'm writing about here today are all by women artists, and if you like what I do, you'll love their work too.

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