In October of 2018, I was honored to have been selected for the Infinitesimal Microscopy for Artists residency sponsored by the Ayatana Artists Research Program. This residency is designed for artists that stand at the intersection of science and art and are interested in the very small.
The residency took place in the beautiful Gatineau region of Quebec. We arrived at the end of the peak fall color season. We started our journey with a scenic ski ride and mycology lesson in Gatineau Provincial Park. Lovely!
Our week was packed with all aspects of scientific exploration. We visited labs that specialized in a variety of study and practice.
We had the chance to see specimens under the SEM, which gave a level of detail consumer grade microscopes can’t come close to matching.
We visited a nematode expert who showed us the detailed anatomy of the mouthparts, as well as inviting us to see the specimen types.
We visited laboratories that investigated seal stomachs for contents, especially microplastics.
We viewed geological specimens, used the camera lucida microscope to draw lichen, had physics demonstrations, bacterial experiment explanations, and more!
My absolute favorite was a visit to the genetics laboratory and DNA library at the Canadian Museum of Nature. We got a lesson on pipetting (I’m not a natural), as well as DNA sequencing 101.
We had great discussions about the future of DNA synthesizing, with “artisanal” labs like this one providing an invaluable service to research as DNA sequencing expands to the industrial level.
We had an action-packed and stimulating week. There was very little time for art making but has left me with many avenues to explore in my future art practice.
I also made some friends! I’ll leave you with our “Science Sance” we performed on slime mold spores. Sadly, we are better artists than resurrectionists.