Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Love All Bodies Art Show Opening August 19th at Toronto Etsy Street Team Gallery



Come join us this Saturday, August 19th, from 6:00 to 9:00 for the Opening of the Love All Bodies Show. This show celebrates all human bodies and features new work from artists in various media including drawing, photography, printmaking, multimedia, textile art, and bronze sculpture. Guest curator Rebecca Rose Vaughan writes, "This exhibition aims to bring together a diverse and inclusive representation of all bodies through intersectional, body positive, progressive, and political work. ALL bodies deserve space and positive representation. We aim to create space to represent people that are particularly subject to systems of oppression and discrimination because their bodies are different. We highly encourage all POC, genderqueer, female identifying, trans persons, those with disabilities and queer people, to submit. Let us create new conversations about what it means to love our bodies specifically in a society where most are taught not to."

EVENT PAGE: Love All Bodies Art Show Opening

Find works by:

Tara Holtom

Carly Whitmore
Lesia Miga

Yahn Nemirovsky
Rron Maloku

Amarina Norris & Ron Caddigan
Sharon Hafner

Stephanie Venerus
Rebecca Rose Vaughan

Ele Willoughby








Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Found Wood Assemblage Earth and Planetary Science


http://ronvanderende.nl
Veneer Theory, Ron van der Ende, 2014. Bas-relief in salvaged wood, 60″ x 61″ x 6″.

Dutch artist Ron van der Ende wanders the streets of Rotterdam, salvaging unwanted wood to make, amongst other delightful, enormous multimedia works, wood assemblages like giant diagrams of our Earth, celestial bodies and geological cross-sections.

http://ronvanderende.nl/work/bare-bones/
Europa, Ron van der Ende, 2015. Bas-relief in salvaged wood, 168 x 168 x 14cm

http://ronvanderende.nl/work/fire-and-brimstone/
Volcano (Moses and Geology), Ron van der Ende, 2012, Bas-relief in salvaged wood,  229 x 152 x 12cm
Watershed (Yosemite), Ron van der Ender, 2013, Bas-relief in salvaged wood, 180 x 200 x 12cm.
Don't miss his portfolio, where you'll also find minerals, gems, spaceships and more.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Insect as Canvas, Real and Imaginary

Yesterday I encountered the work of two different artists using insects as a medium onto which they are building their art.

Japanese artist Akihiro Higuchi (also here) has created works like traditional Japanese lacquerware on beetles and painted on moths in patterns reminiscent of traditional Japanese-style Nihonga painting, Japanese washi papers as well as more kitschy vintage cartoon illustrations.

Akihiro Higuchi,

"MITATE - urushi" Hideyoshi Toyotomi - Hanbei Takenaka, 2015

Stag beetle specimen, Japanese lacquer, gold dust, silver dust, mixed media
25 x 20 x 6 cm
Akihiro Higuchi,

"MITATE - urushi" Mitsuari Ishida - Sakon Shima, 2015

Stag beetle specimen, Japanese lacquer, gold dust, silver dust, mixed media
25 x 20 x 6 cm
Akihiro Higuchi,

Meanwhile, UK illustrator Richard Wilkinson has a series of digital illustrations, so realistic in flavour they (at least at first glance) appear to be painted on insects. They are in fact imaginary insects which resemble pop icons. His delightful collection "Arthropoda Iconicus: Invertebrates From A Far Away Galaxy" allude to Star Wars of course. He expects the book to be released this fall.

Richard Wilkinson, 'Dokk volgatus'

Richard Wilkinson, 'Regio Tutanamentum'

Richard Wilkinson, 'Roboduobus Duoduobus'
I love the intersection of art, entomology, culture and the imagination and how each of these artists are bringing their own cultural touchstones to the medium of insect decoration.

Compare this with where entomology meets fashion.

Friday, May 12, 2017

WUNDERKAMMER: The Cabinet of Curiosity Show


I'm very excited to have curated the Toronto Etsy Street Team Gallery's first group art show, WUNDERKAMMER: The Cabinet of Curiosities from May 11 to 28. This art - or science art - show, is inspired by the Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosity, the immense, eccentric, encyclopedic natural history collections gathered by collectors since the Renaissance. Cabinets of Curiosities featured treasured zoological, botanical, anatomical, fossil and gem specimen, collected by early citizen scientists. WUNDERKAMMER features original sculptures, drawings, hand-bound books, prints, paintings, printmaking, ceramics, jewellery, generative and multimedia specimen of natural and unnatural history on all scales, from the microscopic to the macroscopic. We are featuring the work of local artists (myself included):


István Aggott Hönsch

Erin Candela
Gavin Canning

Andrée Chénier
Carolyn Eady

Leslie Fruman
Monika Millar

Heather Ibbott
Colleen Manestar

Peggy Muddles
Teodora Opris

Christine Strait-Gardner
Tosca Teran

Rovena Tey
Lauren Vartanian

Ele Willoughby





Explore our curiousity cabinet of wildlife biology, mathematics, chemistry, mycology, micro and cellular biology, marine biology, entomology, botany, and fantastical lifeforms through the lens of art.

Join us Saturday, May 13, 6:00 pm to 10:00 for our Opening! FOLLOW THE LINK TO RSVP

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pi in the sky


Today we celebrate π day, because (non-metric) Americans write the date 3/14, like the first three digits of the digital expansion of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Enjoy with some mathy Kate Bush and yet another incredible math-art work about pi by Martin Krzywinski. This year he's translated the 12,000,000 digits of Pi into star charts (by taking blocks of 12 digits and using them as latitude, longitude and azimuth). Then he's selected 80 constellations from these imagined stars and named them after extinct plants and animals. Find more here!

Martin Krzywinski's 2017 Pi Day Star Chart Carree Projection

 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Ursula Franklin for Ada Lovelace Day #ALD16

Ursula Franklin, linocut, 11" x 14" by Ele Willoughby, 2016
Cross-posted from the minouette blog 

This year, to celebrate the international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and math, Ada Lovelace Day (ALD16), I am returning again to my first subject: Ursula Franklin (16 September 1921 – 22 July 2016). Every year since 2009, people have devoted the 2nd Tuesday in October to blogging about (and otherwise celebrating) the under-recognized and under-appreciated women who have made pivotal contributions to STEM throughout history, in the name of Countess Ada Lovelace. (I hope you'll all recall, Ada, brilliant proto-software engineer, daughter of absentee father, the mad, bad, and dangerous to know, Lord Byron, she was able to describe and conceptualize software for Charles Babbage's computing engine, before the concepts of software, hardware, or even Babbage's own machine existed! She foresaw that computers would be useful for more than mere number-crunching. For this she is rightly recognized as visionary - at least by those of us who know who she was. She figured out how to compute Bernouilli numbers with a Babbage analytical engine. Tragically, she died at only 36.)

A preliminary mock-up of one of the Phylo cards
in this new Women in Science and Engineering set
featuring my portrait of today's namesake: Ada Lovelace
I began participating in Ada Lovelace Day in 2010, and I knew immediately I should write about Ursula Franklin. For me she really personifies the goals of ALD; not only did she represent excellence in science and engineering, but she was a great, perhaps even visionary, thinker on the very role of technology in our society, as well as a fearless and tireless advocate for women in STEM, peace and social justice. Her research interests and achievements were clearly guided by her principles, including gathering evidence of the harmful health effects of radiation from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons to or her work on the political and societal impacts of support of the technologies and their use. When she died earlier this year, I wrote about her life, work and how she has been one of my heroes since I was too young to fully appreciate the importance of role models in my scientific career. Her influence as a roll model of women in physics and engineering here cannot be overstated. She was one of the most impressive people I have ever met. I got some encouragement from friends to do something I had long contemplated: add her portrait to my growing collection of scientists. When I finally sat down to do so this September, I was really tickled to open my email and receive a commission to do precisely that! I'm really pleased to say I'm going to be contributing some artwork to latest edition of the Phylo Project from Dave Ng and the Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory (the science education facility within the Michael Smith Laboratories, UBC): a trading card game about Women in Science and Engineering! Sometimes you get several hints of what work you should do next; this portrait's time clearly had arrived.

Franklin was born in Munich in 1921 and survived being interned by the Nazis. She received her PhD in physics from the Technical University of Berlin in 1948 and immigrated to Canada, where after a post-doc at U of T, she joined the faculty. She pioneered archeometry - the use of modern materials analysis in archeology, dating prehistoric artifacts made of metals and ceramics. In my portrait I include an image of an ancient Chinese ding vessel to represent both her metallurgical research and archeometry and her writing about "prescriptive" versus "holistic" technologies used in mass production versus technologies used by craft workers and artisans. Her science was always engaged with societal concerns. During the 60s she advocated for the atmospheric nuclear test ban treaty, citing her studies of strontium-90 radioactive fallout found in children's teeth. Strontium-90 (90Sr) is called a "bone-seeker" because biochemically it behaves like calcium and when absorb it in our bodies what isn't excreted finds its way to our bones. Thus, this radioactive product of nuclear fission (for instance, in atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons) is particularly dangerous and can cause cancers. It decays by beta decay, giving off electrons, as shown by the child's tooth in my portrait. During the 70s she was part of the Science Council of Canada investigation of how we could better conserve resources and protect nature. She began to develop her ideas about complexities of modern technological society.

She consistently has stood up for her beliefs in peace and social justice. As a member of the Voice of Women (now called Canadian Voice of Women for Peace), she tried to persuade Parliament to disengage Canada from supplying any weapons to the US during the Vietnam war, to shift funding from weapons research to preventative medicine, to withdraw from NATO and disarm. She later fought to allow conscientious objectors to redirect part of their income taxes from military uses to peaceful purposes (though the Supreme Court declined to hear the associated case). She joined other retired female faculty in a class action law suit against the University of Toronto for claiming it had been unjustly enriched by paying women faculty less than comparably qualified men. The University settled in 2002 and acknowledged that there had been gender barriers and pay discrimination.

As an applied scientist, her writings on technology benefit from the insight of an insider, but her priorities are justice and peace and she critiques and analyses technology in this light. She does not view technology as neutral; it is a comprehensive system that includes methods, procedures, organization, "and most of all, a mindset". It can be work-related or control-related, holistic and prescriptive. Franklin argues that the dominance of prescriptive technologies in modern society discourages critical thinking and promotes "a culture of compliance". She investigated the relationship between technology and power. She investigated how we interact with communication technologies and advocated for the right to silence - long before our contemporary concern with these issues.

Many of her articles and speeches on pacifism, feminism, technology and teaching are collected in The Ursula Franklin Reader (2006). A nod to her pacifism and feminism is built into the structure of her portrait which encompasses the symbols for peach and women in the negative space. Franklin is one of many respected scholars and thinkers to have delivered a series of Massey Lectures, in 1989. Hers were gathered and published as The Real World of Technology. She has been recognized for her work in many ways, including receiving the Order of Canada, Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for promoting the equality of girls and women in Canada and the Pearson Medal of Peace for her work in advancing human rights. She was inducted into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame in 2012. Locals may know the Ursula Franklin Academy, a Toronto high school, named in her honour. I think this University, city, country and in fact, society at large were made a better place because Ursula Franklin was a part of it. So, though she has received this recognition, I think she should be a household name, so that's why I am happy to add her to my portrait pantheon of scientists and write about her again this Ada Lovelace Day 2016. I also think that it is very apt to combine making her portrait using holistic technologies of the artisan and sharing it through more prescriptive digital technologies with the world.

(NB: much of the biographical information is recycled from my own previous post about Franklin) .

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Metamorphosis and Maria Sibylla Merian; Backyard Butterflies to New World Entomological Explorer

Maria Sibylla Merian, linocut by Ele Willloughby, 2015.
Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), leading entomologist of her day,
traveller and scientific illustrator is shown complete with
pomegranate branch and the life cycle of a butterfly from
caterpillar, to chrysalis in its cocoon to butterfly, inspired by
her famous work 'Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium'
- a process she carefully documented and explained.
Born April 2, 1647, Maria Sibylla Merian was the leading entomologist of her day, a great traveller and scientific illustrator. The German-born naturalist came from a Swiss family who founded one of one of Europe's largest publishing houses in the 17th century. This allowed her early access to many books on natural history. After she lost her father at age three, and her mother remarried still life painter Jacob Marrel. Her step-father and his students trained her as an artist. She began painting insects and plants by 13. She wrote, "I spent my time investigating insects. At the beginning, I started with silk worms in my home town of Frankfurt. I realized that other caterpillars produced beautiful butterflies or moths, and that silkworms did the same. This led me to collect all the caterpillars I could find in order to see how they changed".

She married her step-father's apprentice Johann Andreas Graff, they had a daughter Johanna Helena, and moved to his home city of Nurenburg. She was able to contribute to the family income by painting, creating embroidery designs, and teaching drawing lessons to unmarried daughters of wealthy families, something which also allowed her access to the finest gardens where she continued collecting and documenting. She published her first book of natural illustrations, titled Neues Blumenbuch, in 1675 at age 28. In 1679, she first published her insect research in a two-volume, illustrated book focusing on insect metamorphosis. She moved twice to be with her mother after her step-father's death, then to join her half-brother at a Labadist religious community. She also split with her husband. After her mother's death, she moved to Amsterdam in 1691 and divorced her husband in 1692.

In Amsterdam, she was able to observe some of the collections of insects which had been brought back from Suriname. She became curious whether the life cycles of the exotic butterflies and other insects mirrored those Europe species she knew well. She was able to secure the city of Amsterdam's permission and and travel grant to travel to Suriname in South America, along with her younger daughter Dorothea Maria. She further funded her travels by selling 255 paintings. She planned a five year mission to study insects, making her perhaps the first person to plan a proper scientific expedition!

Maria Sibylla Merian, from
Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, Plate LX. 1705
She travelled throughout the colony sketching insects and plants. She criticized the Dutch planters treatment of indigenous people and black slaves (though she relied upon amerindian slaves in her residence and her excursions, and brought a young amerindian woman named Indianin back with her to Holland). She used local native names for the plants and described local uses. Malaria likely cut her expedition short and forced her return to the Dutch Republic in 1701. She sold her collected specimen and in 1705 she published a book Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium about the insects of Suriname.

She suffered a stroke in 1715 which left her partially paralysed and died a pauper in 1717. Her daughter Dorothea published Erucarum Ortus Alimentum et Paradoxa Metamorphosis, a collection of her mother's work, posthumously. Both Dorothea and Johanna followed their mother's lead and became botanical illustrators.

Copper engraving from Maria Sibylla Merian's
Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, Plate XLIX.
Modern scholars now appreciate her pioneering scientific work as well as the beauty of her scientific illustrations. During her life time insects were still reviled and people still put credence in the Aristotelian idea that they were spontaneously generated or "born of mud". She meanwhile detailed the life cycle of 186 species and explained the poorly-understood or even unknown process of metamorphosis. Science was conducted in Latin and her publications were in the vernacular, making them more popular with high society than contemporary scientists. Despite her knowledge and original research contributions she was not really recognized as a scientist in her day (though Carl Linnæus (1707-1778), father of taxonomy, did cite her in his Systema Naturæ of 1753). It was very unusual for a woman in her day to pursue science, let alone travel the world in its pursuit. She was able to do so because she began her studies with the accessible - animals she could find in her own backyard, and become the leading expert on metamorphosis. During her great expedition, she also noted their habitats, feeding habits and uses to indigenous people. Her classification of butterflies and moths are still relevant today. She detailed plants, frogs, snakes, spiders, iguanas, and tropical beetles and was the first European to describe both army ants and leaf cutter ants as well as their effect on other organisms.

Speckled caiman and a false coral snake by Maria Sibylla Merian
from Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium II., Plate LXX.
Her work had a strong influence on future scientific illustration. Her work shows great accuracy and she was the first to illustrate the complete life cycle of insects. In her time, funding her expedition and her unladylike devotion to insects was ridiculed, but she is remembered as one of the best insect and flower illustrators of all time. Her daughters and student Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750) all went on to be renown botanical illustrators.

Shortly after her death, Peter the Great saw and purchased a large number of her works in Amsterdam. Her portrait was printed on the 500 DM note before Germany converted to the euro. Her portrait has also appeared on a 0.40 DM stamp and two American 32 cent stamps. Many schools, place names, a scientific research vessel and a crater on Venus have been named in her honour.

One last tidbit (or two) for you history of science buffs: Dorothea's daughter, Maria Sibylla Merian's granddaughter married mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-1783). Maria Sibylla Merian was also first cousin to Jacob Christoph Le Blon (1667-1741), painter and engraver who invented the four colour printing process (using an RYBK color model similar to the modern CMYK system).

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