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Think Macro Act Micro

How marine science dripped onto the artist’s canvas

Written by: Makenzie Kerr, Breitbart Lab Manager & Outreach Coordinator

Two worlds collide

Art and science may seem to be at two different ends of the spectrum, but art is often inspired by science related subjects like environmental issues, nature, and space. Artists are always on the hunt for inspiration, and in return, science aches for more creative expression. That’s why USF College of Marine Science’s Dr. Mya Breitbart and Makenzie Kerr teamed up with USF St. Petersburg’s (USFSP) art club, The Collection, to create a unique series of events that brought this two traditionally disparate groups together.

Art & Science Night – November 2019

In November, the College of Marine Science invited artists of all levels from Tampa Bay to peer under microscopes, build chemical models, see the uses of liquid nitrogen, and even paint with bacteria in petri dishes. Calls for artists went out to USFSP students, the Arts Alliance, Creative Pinellas, social media and word of mouth. This was not your typical marine biology 101 class. Graduate students and professors from four different labs explained their research using activities to make complicated concepts exciting and visually appealing.

Think Micro Act Micro – January 2020

The final event, hosted at USFSP’s University Student Center, showcased art from 17 different artists from the local community. About 100 people from the community, including the artist’s families, friends and several art enthusiasts, came to view the pieces and have conversations about how they were inspired.

The event showcased painted canvases, sculptures, view finders, and a live performance. Sheila Cowley (local playwright and audio producer) wrote a performance inspired by Tony Greco’s (Electron Microscope Manager at USF) beautiful electron microscope pictures, including acting by James Rayfield (local educator, director, playwright, and actor) and dancing by Paula Kramer (local dancer and choreographer). The performance took us through the movement of molecules and the beauty of the infinitely tiny living and non-living things around us.

After shock

We were excited to see and feel the energy around this unique set of events. As scientists we deeply appreciate teaming with non-scientists to generate ways for the public to experience science, and the state of our oceans, in a more accessible style. If you missed this event, keep an eye out for more programming soon!

A special thank you to all the artists involved.

Donald Gialanela – Emiliania Huxleyi
Sheila Cowley, James Rayfield – Layering (performance)
Paula Kramer – Layering (performance)
Bob Barancik – Many pieces (Red tide and green algae)
Mya Breitbart – Plankton Perspectives
John Gurbacs – Fender Bender & other pieces (titles unknown)
Julie Haura – Woman in Science
Rebekka Huneke – Title unknown (Octopus)
Tony Palms – Island of Knowledge
Paul Glass – Newly Undiscovered Life Where No Shadow Falls
Machelle Knochenhauer – Coccosphere
Elizabeth Nygaard – Universal Conception
Jamie Williams – Obsessively Running from Bacteria (Burst Bubble)
Felix Lange – Sea To Stars
Denise Lange –  Oyster Shell
Antonio Permuy – Multiple miniature pieces (titles unknown)
Makenzie Kerr – The Good Virus Gallery & Interactive “Match the organism” trifolds
Many artists (photo collage by Makenzie Kerr) – Painting with bacteria poster

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