Snippets and Snapshots

15Aug13

I’ve been in a concentrated workshop-teaching season and now into the finishing days of solo show in the studio, so most of my online output has slipped into snippets and snapshots on Facebook or Instagram. But hey. There’s something that fits best here, and asks for a little more wind (as in long-winded). I have a real crush on chemistry. A real, unexpected, mind-blowing crush on the world of atoms and molecules, compounds and solutions. Covalent, ionic and metallic bonds. I am such a novice, but I am freshly enamored by the world in which we find ourselves. And it’s all thanks to chemistry.

One of the matchmakers is Natalie Angier, who wrote the book above. I started to read it because I find myself as illustrator of another book on biochemistry and the start of life on Earth through the lens of the periodic table and timely meetings of elements. The author of the latter probably had no idea how much his research would inspire my own practice and send me spinning into poetic reveries about rocks and air, and the bio-terrific forms that they have engendered by their interaction. Like you. For instance. But as soon as I began to understand the project, I remembered that Chemistry was one of my lowest grades in school, and dove into popular literature to help me regain a language lost.

Just one little fact that makes my use of graphite in the studio become something else: graphite is a loose carbon allotrope (one of the slipperiest bonds holds it together: the van der Waals force). So as I draw the pencil over the surface, carbon makes whatever world I think I’d like to build, visually, by happily leaving particles behind. It doesn’t take much force from my (carbon-based) hand. Another carbon allotrope, the same element in a more tidy and perfectly three-dimensional sturdy form, only happens under extremes of pressure and heat and time: the diamond.

Stay tuned for the way that these new bits of information will translate into a show about a love affair between rocks and sky.

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2 Responses to “Snippets and Snapshots”

  1. Gala! I have been going through a big molecular biology kick myself! It is so fascinating. One great book I think you’d love: The Machinery of Life by Goodsell. The scientist who wrote it is also an artist, and he fills the book with beautiful illustrations of the workings of the cell.

    • That’s so cool! I will definitely check out that book as well! I also love that the author’s name is almost Goodcell 🙂


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