enTANGLEment: A Collision of Art and Science

The enTANGLEment gallery on its opening night. Photo credit: bob nidever

The enTANGLEment gallery on its opening night. Photo credit: bob nidever

Where do nanoscience, spray paint, geology, wood blocks, astronomy, and biology come together? An art gallery. The enTANGLEment exhibition, curated by Bob Nidever and displayed at TRUNK Gallery in Venice, California, had its grand opening September 10 and is an examination of how art and science interact and influence each other.

The exhibition features works by four contributors: Amy Helene and Cris Orfescu, both of whom have a background in science, and Randi Hokett and Ann Erpino, both artists who find inspiration in science. "Bob…did an excellent job of complementing and contrasting the work of scientists who create art out of their [research], with artists who create art inspired by science. When you wander around the exhibition you can’t tell which is which," said Ann Perich, owner of TRUNK Gallery. Even a brief glance at the pieces confirms this - Orfescu's gorgeous, sculpture-like images in wooden frames turn out to be high-powered electron microscope images, and Erpino's detailed paintings have subtle references to scientific concepts. Hokett's pieces feature artist-made growths of dark, shining crystals, and Helene's colorful mosaics are made using the remnants of failed experiments.

Nidever and Perich agree that there's something special about art and science coming together. "I really don't think one can exist without the other. Both science and art involve curiosity, experimentation, exploration, creativity, and passion," said Perich. Nidever was inspired to create the gallery because he is "drawn to the beauty in images created during or resulting from scientific research." Helene said that she seeks out the natural beauty that exists in her research: "I incorporate imaging and microscopy techniques in my research whenever possible because the visuals of my work are extremely gratifying."

This is Perich's first foray into such an exhibit, but for Nidever, art and science go together like old friends. He started and maintains the Los Angeles-based Artist and Scientist Meetup group, where members meet monthly for drinks and discussion about all things art/science. In fact, the artists featured in enTANGLEment are all members of the group.

During the gallery's soft opening for Mar Vista ArtWalk on September 1, Orfescu and Helene were present to address questions from viewers, who were awed at the science behind the art. Helene, whose mosaics are made of recycled X-ray film from biological assays, said her art "helped create a healthy work/life balance in graduate school." She identifies the types of cancer cells she analyzed on each film "to show how I make ugly things like cancer beautiful."

Nidever hopes that by "curating exhibitions showcasing art inspired by science, [I can] provide a forum for 'arts-based science communications' to help engage the public on how cool science is." The quiet cries of excitement from viewers of the pieces seemed to confirm that Nidever is accomplishing his mission – as well as the fact that Nidever already has future art/science exhibitions lined up. In the meantime, the enTANGLEment exhibit will be on display until September 25, 2016.

To keep up with the vibrant intersection of art and science, follow Nidever's updates on ArtScience.News, and learn more about art/sci opportunities at ArtScience Nexus.

(Ed.: Signal to Noise Magazine is a volunteer promotional sponsor for the enTANGLEment exhibition.)

Amanda Freise (@amandafreise)
Editor-in-Chief, Signal to Noise Magazine
PhD Candidate, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, UCLA