Kimberly Callas Our Inner Fish Photo by Annette

How We Carry Forward – MDI Biological Laboratory Art and Science Collaboration with Artist Kimberly Callas and Jim Coffman, Ph.D.

How We Carry Forward
Art and Science Collaboration with Artist Kimberly Callas and Jim Coffman, Ph.D.
The MDI Biological Laboratory’s fourth annual Art Meets Science exhibit will take place summer 2015 at its Salisbury Cove campus.

Forty Maine, national, and international artists are featured as well as collaborations between artist Kimberly Callas and scientist Jim Coffman, Ph.D., and artist Beth Pfeiffer and scientist Ben King, M.S.

The exhibit is organized and curated by Annette Carvajal, Art in Public Spaces.

Exhibit open from July 1 through September 30, 2015.
Public tours are available and registration is required.

Kimberly Callas Artist Statement for the Collaboration:
My artwork stems from a meditation on how natural processes such as cell propagation, bees building honeycomb, changes in weather, seasons, time, birth, death and decay, become the symbolic language of life. My work looks at how we create meaning from nature as a way to bring us back into relationship with nature.

This current project is inspired by my collaboration with Dr. James Coffman, Ph.D., MDI Biological Laboratory. Jim is researching how chronic early life stress can predispose a person to a variety of inflammatory diseases and more rapid aging, a phenomenon known as ‘developmental programming’ of health and disease.

Through meeting and conversation, Jim and I decided that the collaboration will focus on the theme of ‘how the past moves into the present’. This theme occurs throughout his research, from the chronic stress in early life showing up decades later as arthritis, or as in the understanding from evolution that we all come from the sea. An understanding that has the practical application that the zebra fish makeup closely resembles the make up of the human so that the research is applicable.

‘How We Carry Forward’ Collaborators Statement by James Coffman, Ph.D.
Art and Science Collaboration with Artist Kimberly Callas and Jim Coffman, Ph.D.

“Kimberly and I are both interested in examining how life continually brings the past into the present. Biology provides many examples of this, from the genetic memories encoded in our DNA, to the memories of prior experiences each of us has encoded in our neural circuitry, and the influence of those memories on our perceptions and behavior. In my laboratory we are learning how what you experience early in life can epigenetically determine your proclivities and susceptibilities later in life, including your susceptibility to disease and the rate at which you age. At a deeper level, much of what we are and do remains a legacy of our most ancient ancestors—we are literally an expression, in the words of Neil Shubin, of “our inner fish”. But our fate is not predetermined, because life is also inherently creative—the essence of both art and science. What excites me about this collaboration is getting to see how these perspectives find artistic expression in Kimberly’s work.” ——- James A. Coffman, Ph.D. Associate Professor, MDI Biological Laboratory

‘How We Carry Forward’ Ecological Portrait Sculptures
Art and Science Collaboration with Artist Kimberly Callas and Jim Coffman, Ph.D.
As part of the collaboration, Jim has agreed to have an ‘ecological portrait’ (part of my current series) created using his image. The Ecological Portrait series combines an individual’s portrait with a pattern or material from nature that is important to that individual. This collaboration has inspired two ‘portraits’. One using Jim’s image combined with the patterning from zebra fish tail, a key element of his research (located on the second floor), titled: The Sea From Whence We Came; and the other portrait has a more detailed image of Jim, but has a less obvious reference to the zebra fish (located in the lobby), titled: Our Inner Fish. The zebra fish in the second portrait is hidden within the bust of the portrait and relates to the figure proportionally in reverse (i.e. tale is to scale with the head and the body of the fish to the torso of the figure). This ‘hiding’ is a reference to our ‘inner fish’ a relationship that without science is otherwise invisible.

Installation Images of The Sea From Whence We Came

IMG_7032 The Sea From Whence We Came - Installation Shot MDI Biological Laboratory by Artist Kimberly Callas

Installation Images of Our Inner Fish: 

Kimberly Callas Our Inner Fish         Kimberly Callas Our Inner Fish Photo by Annette

 

‘How We Carry Forward’ Pregnant Larvae Ink Drawings
Art and Science Collaboration with Artist Kimberly Callas and Jim Coffman, Ph.D.
Exploring the theme of ‘How we Carry Forward’, I did a series of ink drawings on stacks of rice paper, so that the drawing would bleed through the papers and the mark left by the previous drawing was what ‘was carried forward’, a piece of the past making a mark on the present. These drawings, inspired by the research of stress on fetal development, emphasize our relationship with zebra fish by blurring the distinction between the image of the larvae and the image of a pregnant woman. I’ve also made a small 19″ sculpture with this image that can be found in the garden in front of this building.

Zebra Fish Larvae by Kimberly Callas  Larvae Installation Shot MDIBL Garden  Larvae Ink Drawings Installation Shot at MDI Biological Laboratory

 

‘How We Carry Forward’ Reliefs and Prints
Art and Science Collaboration with Artist Kimberly Callas and Jim Coffman, Ph.D.
Experimenting with process, I’ve created a series of small reliefs and drawings that work with the idea of ‘impressions’ and things that ‘leave an imprint or mark’ that ‘carries forward, as the exposure to stress ‘leaves it mark’ showing up years later as arthritis. The hands ‘hold’ a small clay pot that stands in for the womb or the thing being carried or held. I cast reliefs that I then used to make prints and rubbings.

How We Carry Forward - Image 1 by Kimberly Callas    How We Carry Forward Relief Series by Kimberly Callas     

How We Carry Forward by Kimberly Callas    How We Carry Forward Relief Series by Kimberly Callas Blue Red Print

 

‘How We Carry Forward’ Thought Board
Art and Science Collaboration with Artist Kimberly Callas and Jim Coffman, Ph.D.
As part of the exhibit, we wanted to show what an artist’s process might look like, so we brought in a piece of the studio thought board and recreated it here on a white board within the lab. The ‘thought board’ shares sketches and drawings and measurements used to create the ‘How We Carry Forward’ sculptures, drawings and prints. There are also lists of titles; I was experimenting with telling the story of the work through a variety of poetic titles. Some titles didn’t get used, others inspired new work.

The ‘thought board’ starts with the line “I heard that fear can do you harm’ and ends with a quote from Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk: How to Make Stress Your Friend.

Artist Kimberly Callas - How We Carry Forward - Thought Board      How We Carry Forward Thought Board Image 2 MDI Biological Laboratory by Kimberly Callas

How We Carry Forward Thought Board Image 3 MDI Biological Laboratory by Kimberly Callas               Ink Drawing for The Sea From Whence We Came by Kimberly Callas

 

The exhibit is open from July 1 through September 30, 2015.
Public tours are available and registration is required.

 

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