Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Adaptations to Extremes: Art, Science Panel Discussion

painting by elizabeth albertThe Lake George Arts Project’s Courthouse Gallery has announced “Adaptations to Extremes,” an Art-Science exhibition set to run from January 19th to February 22nd.

An opening reception has been set for Saturday, January 19th from 4 to 6 pm, and a panel discussion writer Michael Coffey serving as moderator on Sunday, January 20th at the Bolton Historical Museum at 3 pm. Both events are free and open to the public.

A major theme in the biological sciences is the way in which organisms adapt to environmental extremes. The Santa Barbara Basin is a bowl-shaped geological formation off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Limited movement of water in this depression has created an environment severely depleted of oxygen. In such a place it would be surprising to find organisms that need oxygen to live, yet scientists have documented the existence of foraminifera, a type of single-celled organism, living there in abundance. How have foraminifera adapted to an oxygen-deprived environment? For that matter, how do any organisms respond to living in such extreme environments? These questions fuel the research of Dr. Joan Bernhard, from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and her colleagues in their study of this natural “dead zone” in the ocean. The exhibition “Adaptations to Extremes” presents work by a group of artists engaged with the scientists involved in this research, as well as samples of their communications over the course of this ongoing project.

One group of artists explored the theme specifically using the “optics” of Dr. Bernhard’s research. These artists made new work based on correspondence with Dr. Bernhard and her colleague Sam Bowser, scientific advisor to the exhibition. They were offered access to technical reports, photographs, and the researchers’ hypotheses. One artist, Terry Conrad, was invited to accompany and assist Dr. Bernhard’s crew last spring aboard the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Robert Gordon Sproul research vessel as they sampled the sea floor in the Santa Barbara Basin.

A second group of artists – selected for the exhibition because of their interest in the biological or marine sciences – had already produced original works germane to the broad theme of adaptation.

A number of participating artists will join curator Laura Von Rosk and scientists Joan Bernhard and Sam Bowser at the panel discussion on January 20th, to discuss the importance of Joan’s research, as well as the challenges and insights resulting from this year-long art/science dialogue, and their endeavors in artistic creations and interdiciplinary connections.

The exhibition is co-curated by Laura Von Rosk and Scientists Dr. Joan Bernhard and Dr. Sam Bowser. Exhibiting artists include Elizabeth Albert, JoAnn Axford, Terry Conrad, Josh Dorman, Susan Heideman, Eva Henderson, Charlene Leary, Deanna Lee, Corwin Levi, Marilyn McCabe, Joy Muller-McCoola, Jeanne Noordsy, Shaun O’Boyle, Vicky Palermo, Rebecca Smith, and Kathleen Thum.

Dr. Bowser engaged with all the artists by questioning them on their artworks using the scientific method of hypothesis testing. The resulting dialogues in both groups – artists responding to scientific research, and scientists responding to artworks – were often surprising, sometimes amusing, and always thoughtful and fascinating.

Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday,  noon to 5 pm, and Saturday, noon to 4 pm.

The Old County Courthouse is located at 1 Amherst Street, Lake George. The Bolton Historical Museum is located at 4924 Lake Shore Dr, Bolton Landing. For more information, click here.

Painting by Elizabeth Albert.

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