Art + Science Series: Paintings + Sculpture of Katey Berry Furgason

Three Diatoms, plaster paint + gold leaf © Katey Berry Furgason

Three Diatoms, plaster paint + gold leaf © Katey Berry Furgason

I’m pleased to feature the artwork of Katey Berry Furgason on the first of the new Art + Science Series here on the biocreativity blog. I first met Katey when she submitted three paintings from her Portraits of the Microscopic series to Art.Science.Gallery.’s EVOLVE exhibition last spring. Last summer, I had the immense good fortune to visit the studio she in Santa Fe she shares with husband Scot, to learn more about her inspirations and process. To The Heart, a solo exhibition of Katey’s paintings and sculpture, runs February 14 – March 23 at Art.Science.Gallery. in Austin, TX.

[biocreativity] Welcome to the biocreativity blog, Katey! What type of work do you do? 

 [KBF] I believe all life is a series of collaborations.  We are the results; past, present and future, of collaborations in which we find meaning and purpose. This belief structures how I live and how I work. When I am working I am engaged in collaboration with my subject. My subject presents its physical facts to me and I respond. I search for its essence, its core, its heart and its possible transformations.  My role is to discover what my subject was, is and can be.

Inside The Eye, plaster painting + gold leaf © Katey Berry Furgason

Inside The Eye, plaster painting + gold leaf © Katey Berry Furgason

[biocreativity] Where do you see yourself on the biocreativity spectrum? 

[KBF] From 16-18 years of age I studied human anatomy, drawing and sculpture at the Art Student’s League in NYC to get some classical training before entering into the BFA program at Hunter College in NYC, which was known to lean heavily towards the conceptual.

At Hunter I studied studio art and philosophy.  Although my schooling was focused in the Arts, being raised by a father who was a chemical engineer, inventor, entreprenuer and lover of experiments (especially on the kitchen table, when he wanted to show me, say, what distillation was) filled me with the wonders of life and beauty of discovery.  My father’s approach to life filled and nourished my childhood, it was founded in his love of what science showed us, in the beauty of all that was known and the wonder of all that was yet to be discovered. Although my formal academic training did not include scientific study, the entirety of my childhood was bathed in it. 

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[biocreativity] That sounds like an amazing experience, and I can certainly see how it has inflenced your work. How do you currently view the interaction of arts and sciences? How do you think one informs the other?

[KBF] The idea of Infinite Divisibility, which is the belief that there are infinite parts to every whole is widely held by scientists, philosophers, economists….and by most of us who give it some thought. This idea applied to the notion of Truth gives us this: The Whole of Truth, the entirety of All existent Truth is infinitely divisible = there are infinite parts/pieces/bits/aspects which make up the Whole Truth.

Scientists, artists, philosophers, teachers, parents, etc. (all of us), to some extent, seek to understand some part(s) of Truth in order to make our lives and existence more meaningful. Artists and Scientists make it their life goal to seek part(s) of our Whole Truth with the clear purpose of sharing their discoveries and observations – these bits of Truth – with others, to build upon human understanding and depth of experience.

The artist and the scientist set out on paths of discovery, often not knowing (even if they think they do!) where the path will lead and what will be uncovered. In methodology they may differ (artists do not have to adhere to the scientific method) but in purpose they do not. In purpose they share a goal, an outlook on life, a belief in, love, and importance, of; discovery, wonder, questions, observations and seeking. Seeking bits of Truth that fascinate us, that inform us, that make our lives richer.

In other words, very simply, both Artist and Scientist say to all who will hear them “Hey! I discovered something! I want you to know about it!”.

Insect collaboration sculptures by Katey Berry Furgason

Insect collaboration sculptures by Katey Berry Furgason.

[biocreativity] I think about that process of discovery a lot, and being both an artist and scientist myself, I definitely see the parallels in purpose you describe. I was so fascinated to learn about your process when I visited your studio last summer. Please describe your current art projects for the biocreativity readers. 

[KBF] In my paintings of the microscopic I spend endless hours looking at and reading about my subject.  I read, I take notes, I study what they do and what they look like.  For days, weeks, I look at hundreds of images, take notes on what they are, how they function, I sketch them, over and over and over, until I feel I have ‘gotten’ them. Then, all notes and sketches are put aside and I begin to sketch from memory. I compose the painting from memory with pencil and paper first. I make my own clay plaster paint and apply layers, with a small trowel, onto masonite. I then apply metal leaf to areas where my subject matter will be and then I etch into the leaf with a small, dental like tool. The details of my subjects are etched out of the leaf.  The image there is from memory, it is not meant to give us a realist depiction but rather a human interpretation, through memory, of its most important aspects; its essence interpreted.

Bone. Plaster paint + gold leaf © Katey Berry Furgason

Bone. Plaster paint + gold leaf © Katey Berry Furgason

My work with found wood brings to me a different process and outcome because it presents its reality to me in a much different way than a microscopic subject does. My wood pieces are found on my daily walks in New Mexico. I walk the rivers, arroyos, deserts and mountains of Santa Fe.  I pick up decaying pieces of wood that visually jump out at me.  I am struck by how they have been dramatically re-shaped by insects, time and weather. Their bodies reveal their history.  I am aware that at that moment of picking them up and taking them to my studio I interrupt their cycle in nature.

A collaboration begins when I thoroughly gut each piece of its soft rot and reveal the hard form; its core. This is a process of discovery because I cannot predict what will be uncovered; what will be left remaining. 
I then scrape and sand each piece and surround them in earth based mediums: clay, wax, metal. The process feels deeply ceremonial and ritualistic: 
from the selecting… to the ‘gutting’…to the re-working of the surface… to the ‘re-dressing’….to the mounting on the wall : subject and I go through a transformation.

Katey Berry Furgason at work in her studio in Santa Fe, NM.

Katey Berry Furgason at work in her studio in Santa Fe, NM.

[biocreativity] Katey, tell us more about the inspirations and motivations behind your work and practice. 

[KBF]

I am interested in art imitating the way in which we live; collaboratively.

I am drawn to collaborations with nature.

I want nature to guide my work, give me my set of criteria and physical facts.

I am drawn to the process of discovery and not being in full control of the outcome.

I need to be engaged with my environment.

I believe life is fascinating and that beauty is everywhere and that it often goes unseen.

I am filled with the desire to show people some of that beauty that often goes unseen.

8 Heart Strings, plaster painting + gold leaf © Katey Berry Furgason

8 Heart Strings, plaster painting + gold leaf © Katey Berry Furgason

[biocreativity] What is the most important thing that you want others to know about your work?

[KBF] The most important thing about my work would be this: once I am done with it, it is Yours. It is yours to interpret freely and personally, to attach whatever kind of meaning to it you wish, it has no ‘right’ interpretation.  Once I am finished making it, it is itself fully offered to you.

Insect collaboration sculpture by Katey Berry Furgason

Insect collaboration sculpture by Katey Berry Furgason

[biocreativity] I think that is a really important and generous point to make. Since part of our mission at Art.Science.Gallery. is to engage people in the science through the arts, I think about this a lot. We try to do this in a non-intimidating way, but I some people feel intimidated in an art gallery setting, so then our mission also becomes about helping break down “crutches” people have built up about not considering themselves to be very “sciency” or very “artistic”. Your statement above is something that I hope would feel very inviting to viewers of your work. Katey what’s next for you in art + science? Where do you see your current projects going, or what would you like to do next?

[KBF] I will continue to explore the objects in the natural world around me.  I am planning on doing several room installations – in which the walls will be covered with tree roots, mounted flush against it – bringing the outside in and directing our gaze and thoughts to what often goes unnoticed.

I am still fascinated with how time, weather and insects act upon decaying pieces of wood, with how and where natural objects are in the ecological cycle. I never really know what the next work will be – one thing leads to the other – one discovery to the other.

Pine, plaster painting + gold leaf © Katey Berry Furgason

Pine, plaster painting + gold leaf © Katey Berry Furgason

[biocreativity] Where can biocreativity readers find you on the web?

[KBF] My facebook page is found at: https://www.facebook.com/KateyBerryPaintings 

[biocreativity] What is your advice to young artists and scientists who might be thinking about getting into art-science projects?

 [KBF] Focus on the process, always maintain integrity (make things well), and let the outcome be born out of it (allow the outcome, don’t force it).

With Blue, wood, clay, wax © Katey Berry Furgason

With Blue, wood, clay, wax © Katey Berry Furgason

[biocreativity] Anything else you’d like to mention?

[KBF] Art is life, it is engagement, it is collaboration, it is a process of discovery – you are a necessary part of that. It is your eyes, your heart, and your mind that bring it to life and sustain its meaning(s).

[biocreativity] Katey, thanks so much for this interview! Readers, mark your calendars to see Katey’s solo exhibition, To The Heart, opening on Valentine’s Day 6-9pm at Art.Science.Gallery. at 916 Springdale Road, Building 2, #102, Austin, TX 78702. The exhibition runs through March 23, 2014.  

Heart Beats, plaster painting + gold leaf © Katey Berry Furgason

Heart Beats, plaster painting + gold leaf © Katey Berry Furgason

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The Art of Evolution

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Image from Genetic Drift Simulation on http://theartofevolution.tumblr.com/ © 2012 Ammon Thompson + Laura Crothers

My good friends at They Blinded Me With Science have an exciting program tonight! They’ll be interviewing University of Texas at Austin graduate student Ammon Thompson about a new art-science collaboration called The Art of Evolution, in which you can explore incredibly creative visualizations of simulations about common topics in evolutionary biology. Currently, the website features interactive simulations on Mating, Genetic Drift and Coalescence.

Tune in tonight, on the radio (KVRX student radio 91.7FM, Austin, TX), or online (www.kvrx.org) from 8:30-9:00pm to learn more about this exciting project!

Eco Art + Science Series: The Inked Animals of Adam Cohen + Ben Labay

Several years ago I attended a Texas Herpetological Society meeting which focused on Texas salamanders. As many biologists are apt to do when encountered with art featuring their study species, I flipped out over the poster for the event, which depicted several species of salamander found in Texas (and of course, I bought several copies for all of my “salamander friends”). Last fall, when I started volunteering at the Texas Natural History Collections for the Fishes of Texas project, I was delighted to meet and work with the artist who created that poster – biologist Adam Cohen!

Texas Salamanders poster © 2007 Adam Espelee Cohen

One of the striking images when you enter the Texas Natural History Collections (besides the jars and jars of dead things) is a fish-print of the state-record tarpon – a 210 pound 11 ounce behemoth of a fish, immortalized on fabric and ink using the Japanese Gyotaku fish-rubbing technique. After helping fellow biologist Andy Gluesenkamp create the tarpon print, Adam Cohen and Ben Labay were inspired to begin a collaboration to create more prints, and to expand the subject matter well beyond fish! In fact, Andy recently told me how Adam simply came alive with excitement when he participated in printing the tarpon. (And, just FYI, you can view another edition of the record tarpon print at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, TX). Well, I’m pleased to say that Adam and Ben have now officially joined forces by opening their online gallery and blog Inked Animal, featuring stunning prints of a diversity of animals (and soon-to-be plants) using ink, clay, paper and fabric. It’s now my dream to just happen to be volunteering one day when these two are making a print, so I can do one too [**hint, hint, guys**]!

Tarpon head | Megalopidae. Gyotaku print © InkedAnimal.com, used here by permission.

[biocreativity] Welcome to the biocreativity blog, Adam and Ben! What type of work do you do?

[AEC] I make most of my living as a biologist working at the Texas Natural History Collection’s Ichthyology Collection on our Fishes of Texas project. The building I work in is basically a warehouse full of jars of dead fish mostly collected from Texas. It’s pretty creepy to lots of people, but I never had that feeling about it. We do lots of collecting for work, which means going into the field with collecting gear such as seines, gill nets, and shockers. But, I also think of myself as an artist. After high school I thought I might go to art school and pursue a career in art, but figured I was less likely to find a job in that field so stuck with science. My brother and I started a concert poster business in 2001 called Silverfish Art – I was the artist and he did marketing and sales. I am now working with Ben Labay on a new project called Inked Animal. In this project we are essentially taking the classic Japanese fish print Gyotaku concept and expanding to all kinds of animals, like birds, mammals, reptiles etc. There is essentially no animal or plant off limits. Being field biologists means we get lots of opportunities to encounter dead animals often as road kill or just random encounters.

[BJL] I am a fish biologist and researcher as a profession, art and nature enthusiast as a hobby. My profession and hobby come together with Inked Animal. It’s a place for me to explore the reasons and inspirations for why I chose to study biology.

Alligator Gar | Atractosteus spatula. Gyotaku print © InkedAnimal.com, used here by permission.

[biocreativity] Where do you see yourselves on the biocreativity spectrum? Closer to the arts end or the science end?

[BJL] Science end of the spectrum, I think.  My primary training was in science, I got a BS in biology from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Masters from Texas State University – San Marcos.

[AEC] My primary training is definitely science and I have no real training in arts except for taking some classes when I was a kid. I went to undergraduate school at the University of Texas at Austin and continued to get my Masters there as well. Both are biology degrees. Regarding the spectrum, I shift around depending on my mood or recent events in my life. I’m pretty much never at one end or the other though.

North American Beaver | Castor canadensis. Gyotaku print © InkedAnimal.com, used here by permission.

[biocreativity] How do you two view the interaction of the arts and sciences? What’s your take on how these disciplines interact? (I’m curious to see how different your answers are.)

[AEC] I think a lot of people separate them and would come to this blog thinking this were an unusual line of questioning. But, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. Personally I think a lot of my interest in biology was kindled by an artistic side. I remember keeping aquaria when I was younger and watching the fish for hours. There was an appreciation for the way they looked that drove me to learn about how to keep them alive and healthy. Now in the museum I often see a shelf of specimens and am struck by how they line up to create great repeating patterns. I have a one and half year old daughter at home and I’ve been watching for signs of artistry in her, but have not been able to see it yet.  But, when she explores the back yard it seems to me that she is purely curious like a scientist so maybe that develops first.

[BJL] I don’t think they always intersect.  For that reason I don’t know if they need to be taught together, but for the same reason, when they do come together it is that much more special. Not sure that they inform each other, rather they complement each other, like how left- and right-sided brain activities can complement each other.

Western Diamondback | Crotalus atrox. Gyotaku print © InkedAnimal.com, used here by permission.

[biocreativity] Tell us a little more about your art-science projects.

[AEC] Most of my own art is done with colored pencil and paper, but I’ve also worked with acrylic paint. I went through an experimental insect art phase where I arranged real insects into various compositions. But most recently, I’ve been working with Ben Labay on our Inked Animal project. You can see my illustrations at www.AdamEspeleeCohen.com and my concert posters at www.SilverfishArt.com.

Minckley’s Cichlid | Hericthys minckleyi. Pencil illustration © 2004 Adam Espelee Cohen, used here by permission.

[BJL] I have been focusing on impressions of nature, right now limited to inking animal specimens and creating a pressing/impression of it on paper or cloth. For fish, this is commonly known as the Japanese art of Gyotaku or “Fish rubbing”.

Minckley’s Cichlid | Herichthys minckleyi. Gyotaku print © InkedAnimal.com, used here by permission.

[biocreativity] Just to give a little context here, Gyotaku originated so that fishermen could record the size and quantity of fish they caught before taking them to market. It has now become a beautiful and culturally important art form. What inspired you two to get into this technique and begin your Inked Animal project? 

[AEC] My art has always had a biological component. Not sure why exactly, other than that I have no interest in working with other subject material. I’d done the ink prints in the past when I was younger (with octopus and flying fish), but got back into it again after a co-worker [biologist Andy Gluesenkamp] asked if I was interested in helping him print some large fish he had recently acquired. I did some printing with him and sort of got the bug again. Shortly after that I did a concert poster which was an ink print of a nestling white winged dove that I found dead in my front yard and got hooked into doing this with all kinds of other animals.

Concert poster for The Raconteurs © 2008 Adam Espelee Cohen, http://www.SilverFish-Art.com

My partner in this project, Ben Labay, who I also work with at the museum soon called me saying that he had found a grey fox on the side of the road and pretty soon we were off and running. It helps to have a good partner since you can get so much more done and you get to feed off each other’s energy.

[BJL] I saw the fish rubbing done with a large tarpon by Adam Cohen and Andy Gluesenkamp. This started Adam and I on a path to do more and more.

Gray Fox | Urocyon cineraergenteus. Gyotaku print © InkedAnimal.com, used here by permission.

[biocreativity] The fox print is so beautiful; very ethereal, much like living foxes seem to be. What is the most important thing that you want others to know about your Inked Animal work?

[BJL] That we create the work out of respect for what creates the impression, trying to capture a special and unique version of it that simultaneously acknowledges the corporeal and spirit of the animal.

[AEC] I always worry about people thinking we are going out there into nature killing animals rather callously and selfishly for our personal project. I don’t think that’s accurate. In fact doing this project has forced us to confront how we feel about committing animals to death. It turns out that neither of us has much trouble killing fish, we do that for a living after all at the museum. But neither of us has much of a stomach for killing much else, so almost all of the other material are found dead on the road. Whenever it is possible we donate specimens to the museum after we have printed them.

European Starling – Windshield Pose | Sturnus vulgaris. Gyotaku print © InkedAnimal.com, used here by permission.

[biocreativity] What is the most common question or comment you get about your  work?

[AEC]  Specifically regarding the Inked Animal project, people often ask us about our methods. We are still experimenting with the methods and I’m not sure that will ever stop. Basically animals are painted with ink or clay (I am starting to prefer clay) and then pressed against paper or other material. Sometimes we handle the specimens (leaving the paper in place) and other times we handle the paper (leaving the specimen in place). Then manual touch up with a brush or pen is often needed.

But I think people are really most interested in knowing how we deal with dead and often rotting animals. We sometimes wear latex gloves, but gloves make it hard to feel what you are doing so usually we don’t wear them. It is an art done best if you have a strong stomach and a bad sense of smell. Some of my favorite prints of ours are the ones with blood stains where components of the animal are included as part of the print.

Virginia Opossum – version 1 | Didelphus virginiana. Gyotaku print © InkedAnimal.com, used here by permission.

[BJL] Yes, it’s probably about the process.  People wonder how we do it.

[biocreativity] I read on the InkedAnimal blog that sometimes in the process of printing an animal (especially fish, since that’s primarily what you study), you might notice new and different characteristics that you can use to help identify different species. Can you tell us more about this and how it can feed back into your science?

[AEC] Through working with specimens as objects of art we’ve noticed bits of specimen anatomy that we’ve overlooked before or otherwise never took the time to take a close look at. Some come to mind immediately: sensory pores on alligator chins, dense hair in opossum pouches and their fingerprints, bifurcating genitalia of snakes, unusual mutated scales on fish. The most striking kinds of things we notice are related to various pores and crevices which become very obvious once ink fills them in. I’ve started keeping my camera close by when printing to catch some of these things and those pictures are included on some of our blog posts. We inked a menhaden recently (http://inkedanimal.com/gulf-menhaden) and as the ink settled into the pores we noticed the incredible network of sensory canals of the head that allows the fish to sense near-by fish and form dense schools. Also recently while printing a Guadalupe bass we noticed the relatively small cheek scales that the ink made much more evident. This is a character used to differentiate this species from the largemouth bass. Interestingly enough, we first learned about that character from Joseph Tomelleri, a well-known fish illustrator. I’m guessing he knew about that character due to the careful observation needed for his art. That’s a character I haven’t seen in any fish ID books. Fish biologists often use inks and dyes as tools for intentionally doing these kinds of things, so I don’t think we are doing anything cutting edge or making new discoveries for science (although we could), but it certainly helps in my education and makes me a better observer and scientist.

Guadalupe Bass | Micropterus treculii. Gyotaku print © InkedAnimal.com, used here by permission.

[BJL] I think Adam really summed that one up. For me, I’m not sure that there’s much of a direct impact of the art onto the science, but the main point I like that Adam makes is about using the printing process to help be a better observer, which is what science is all about. So looking at it that way, it’s not any details, but the process that helps us make better identifications, maybe remember certain characters, and generally have more respect for the animals we deal with and nature in general.

[biocreativity] What’s next for you guys in art + science? 

[AEC] As with most of my projects I don’t know exactly where the Inked Animal stuff will go. We basically do it because we like to. We are currently focused on building up our online gallery and have a lot more material to get up soon. Once we build up the gallery we’ll work on trying to make a little money from our work.

[BJL] Oh, and we have an immediate goal of creating a “Spineless” gallery that will at first feature insects, but hopefully get some mollusks in there as well.  The next big step is to get a show at a gallery.

Jack Crevalle 2 | Caranx hippos. Gyotaku print © InkedAnimal.com, used here by permission.

[biocreativity] An invertebrate gallery sounds very cool! Where can the biocreativity readers learn more about your project and see more images?

[AEC] Our Inked Animal project (www.InkedAnimal.com) also has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/InkedAnimal.

Blacktip Shark 3 | Charcharhinus limbatus. Gyotaku print © InkedAnimal.com, used here by permission.

[biocreativity] Any advice to young artists and scientists who might be thinking about getting into art-science projects?

[BJL] Don’t think, just do.  Ready, Fire, Aim.

[AEC] No specific advice. Honestly, I feel like I don’t really know what I am doing.

Atlantic Stingray | Dasyatis sabina. Gyotaku print © InkedAnimal.com, used here by permission.

[biocreativity] Well, Adam, it sure seems to me that you do! And, I suppose I will interpret Ben as not being afraid to experiment (I agree). Thanks so much to you both for sharing your work with us on the biocreativity blog! I’m sure the readers look forward to seeing what comes next. I know I do!

The biocreativity blog’s ECO Art + Science Series illustrates the many ways in which artists and scientists are combining their talents in the modern world. Stay tuned for more interviews right here at www.biocreativity.wordpress.com! If you or someone you know should be featured in this series, please send an email to biocreativity@yahoo.com.

 

Penguin Poo Illustration: investigation of biophysics or fecal humor?

An interesting scientific illustration has been gaining some notoriety on the internet lately (nine years after it’s publication, I might add!). As I’m always singing the praises of what good scientific illustration can bring to science communication and public education, I thought I’d give this one some attention, too.

Now, don’t scoff at the subject of the investigation. What may very well sound like a silly study to you – investigating the pressure, viscosity and trajectory required to achieve the spectacular poop-shoot of penguins – may in fact be very important to the penguins themselves. (Never seen a penguin poop? Google it.) While even I may be more interested in the behavioral ecology of why penguins have evolved to shoot their poo quite so far (to avoid leaving the next exposed to predators, per chance? Or, to avoid soiling their feathers and thus spending energy cleaning them?), researchers Victor Meyer-Rochow and Jozsef Gal took a more experimental physics approach to the subject in their 2003 paper Pressures produced when penguins pooh – calculations on avian defaecation. published in the journal Polar Biology (click here for access to the full paper). Figure 1, as you can see below, really isn’t a great work of illustration necessarily, but it’s just gawktastic enough to be generating quasi-science stories on the internet for nearly a decade after it’s publication (it’s open access, by the way).

Fig. 1 Position of model penguin during defaecation and physical parameters used to calculate rectal pressure necessary to expel faecal material over a distance of 40 cm. From: Meyer-Rochow, V., & Gal, J. (2003). Pressures produced when penguins pooh – calculations on avian defaecation. Polar Biology, 27 (1), 56-58 DOI: 10.1007/s00300-003-0563-3

There was actually quite a fair bit of painstaking mathematical projections in the paper, estimating values for the viscosity fo the “semi-liquid” fluid, and consideration of, “non-Newtonian mechanisms of mucus participation, non-homogenous media inside the intestine, a certain amount of gut-wall elasticity, specific reflux zones, etc.” Indeed, many biomechanical and physiological cogitation was involved. What I think I find even more fascinating, however, is Figure 2, in which the authors present data to support their finding that, “the viscosity of penguin faeces lies between glycol and olive oil.” There’s even a handy comparison on the x-axes with auto tyre pressure:

Fig. 2 Rectal pressure (in Pa along left and mmHg along right ordinate) in relation to viscosity (abscissa) and three cloacal apertures (4.2 mm=rockhopper, 8.0 mm=Ade´lie, and 13.8 mm=gentoo penguin). The viscosity of penguin faeces lies between glycol and olive oil. For comparison, known viscosities of other substances are given along the abscissa. From: Meyer-Rochow, V., & Gal, J. (2003). Pressures produced when penguins pooh – calculations on avian defaecation. Polar Biology, 27 (1), 56-58 DOI: 10.1007/s00300-003-0563-3

Whether you can see it for the pure biophysics, or just needed something to lighten up your Wednesday, Meyer-Rochow and Gal have certainly illustrated the power of scientific illustration to capture our attention and posit on the oft neglected things in the study of life on Earth.

Happy Birthday David Attenborough!

Hello dear readers! Sorry I’ve been a bit sparse lately, but things seem to be calming down a bit. The Art From the Ashes show was a great success, and you can still view the remaining works at the Bastrop Public Library. I’m anxiously awaiting to hear the total funds raised for the Lost Pines Recovery Team!

However, we’ve got something else to celebrate today! Today is the birthday of one of the most creative science communicators of our time, Sir David Attenborough. He has worked on his groundbreaking BBC Life series since 1979’s Life On Earth. Here’s a clip from the very first of these films, featuring a very spry Sir A. Being in my fetal stage at the time this aired on television, I can’t help but think that maybe listening to this in the womb could have influenced my love for natural history before I was even born!


Attenborough and his team at the BBC have continued to produce ever-impressive films in the Life series. I’ve often said to my colleagues that I think one could get a very good biological education just by watching these films. I’ve yet to see Frozen Planet, the most recent series in Sir Attenborough’s repertoire. What do you think!? I’m sure it’s very fascinating, indeed!