At Artomatic, more than 1,000 artists are currently displaying their work in an empty office building in Crystal City, Virginia, just across the river from Washington, D.C. As one of those artists, I’ve spent several hours walking the floors, and last week I spent an entire afternoon searching out art inspired by science. There’s not a lot (and I’m sure I missed a few), but it’s worth a look if you’re at the show:
11th floor, #151: Xenophilia, by Liz Lescault
Lescault creates what she calls “biomorphic” art–a mixture of sculpture, ceramic and pottery inspired by patterns in nature. Her works aren’t copies of anything you’ll see in real life, but they are reminiscent of plants, corals, forams and other familiar forms.
10th floor: Roger Cutler
Cutler’s Apatasaurus excelsus immediately draws you eye in this large room on the 10th floor; it’s eight feet tall and made of wire. But I prefer the tiny T. rex Cutler had placed in the front of his space, where it looks on as the sculptor creates a third dinosaur, Allosaurus fragilis on site. Cutler is a huge dinosaur fan, and I hope that he’s successful in his quest to bring a dinosaur festival to the National Mall.
9th floor, #108: AdenoCD Virus, Forest McCluer
This enormous adenovirus constructed of CDs and computer parts is the latest sculpture from McCluer’s 30 Computers project. Since 2001, McCluer has been working to create sculptures from the remnants of 30 discarded computers.
9th floor, #126: Sarah Noble
Noble’s day job as a planetary geologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is reflected in her wondrous paintings of rockets, planets and astronauts.
9th floor, #163: Beth Pitcher
Another ceramic artist inspired by organic textures and natural patterns, Pitcher’s works would look at home nestled in a coral reef.
9th floor, #186: Michele Banks
The petri dishes on the wall caught my eye first. Banks is a collage and watercolor artist who uses scientific themes–and sometimes scientific objects–mostly from biology, in her work. The artist doesn’t have a science background, but I would swear that she’s spent many hours staring through microscopes and plating bacteria (though her works are much more colorful and beautiful than anything I ever saw in the lab).
9th floor, Peeps: Faster Than The Peep of Light?
One of the highlights of Artomatic is the display of dioramas from the Washington Post’s annual Peeps Contest. This interpretation of the experiments at CERN didn’t win, but who doesn’t like particle physics as done in colored marshmallow cream?
8th floor, #142: Heather Miller
One section of Miller’s huge display is devoted to science and technology, using objects from science to create art about science. My favorite has to be A Series of Tubes, a commentary on a memorable senatorial quip created from test tubes–science, technology and culture all in one.
4th floor, #309: The 19: A Collection of 19 Icons From the 19th Century, Praveen Thaivalappil
These 19 palette-knife paintings are large-scale recreations of portraits of many familiar and influential thinkers from the 19th (and early 20th) century, including many scientists–Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Alfred Nobel and Louis Pasteur.
4th floor, #353: Julia D’Ambrosi
I was mesmerized by D’Ambrosi’s beautiful paintings inspired by sea creatures. D’Ambrosi uses them as inspiration for her interpretive paintings, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she’s even looked to the Census of Marine Life for her work.
Science doesn’t seem to inspire art all that often, if Artomatic is any indication. That’s kind of sad since it’s such an interesting part of life. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with that observation, but it seems like there’s plenty of opportunity here to mix the worlds of science and art and create something truly special.
Artomatic runs Wednesdays through Sundays until June 23.