CellSpace Information for Participants

What I hope to achieve with CellSpace

  • think of this as a workshop space with the tools that are needed to create, rather than a typical all-day workshop of instruction
  • together, we’ll gather the tools that we need to create ongoing projects, and use the group to help us explore and develop our own approaches to SciArt
  • I will search for venues to showcase the work that we create, giving us an exciting goal and deadlines to keep us on track–please feel free to work on these projects, or chart your own path in the workshop
  • I will also find ways to share my own personal experiences with using SciArt, discussing how I developed my approach and how I fit SciArt into my career

A few words about my own approach

Scientific accuracy informed by artistic sensibility

I have found that my major accomplishments have been the result of giving myself a challenge, and then trying to solve it. I did my two big ones back when I was a postdoc:

  1. Can I draw a picture of a cell with molecular detail? This question led to a lot of reading about molecular and cell structure, bioinformatics, microscopy, and all the things I needed to build pictures of molecules in cells. Then, I had to find ways to draw these pictures and still keep them comprehensible.
  2. Biomolecular diagrams are very confusing–are there ways to create clearer pictures? This question led me to explore computer graphics methods for cartoony representations, which I have used ever since then.

I’m constantly giving myself these challenges on a smaller scale:

  1.   Everybody’s worried about respiratory droplets–what do they look like? This lead to my recent respiratory drop painting.
  2.   Structure of capsaicin receptor–why do we care? This is the question I’m currently answering for the next Molecule of the Month.

My challenge to you

In the workshop, I’d like to focus on asking these types of questions and answering them with SciArt.

For example, I’ve been wanting to do a project that shows dead SARS-CoV-2 dried out on a surface

  • why? I think it will be empowering (dead virus, right?), and will promote awareness of virus on surfaces
  • what? I need information on: What happens when it dries (I hope it splits open!)? What about all the other goo in the droplet? Do different surfaces do different things (a series? on a mask?)?
  • how? I could stay in my comfort zone and do a watercolor, but I have more arty pencil renderings stuck in my mind that somehow feel more right–I hope the group will help me sort that out.

I’d like to invite you to ask similar types of questions, and answer them with your SciArt.

Do anything you need to do to tell your story!

Please feel free to use any medium

Please explore any and all approaches from technical journal illustration to fine art

I will help with gathering information to support the picture/story you want to present

I usually want to tell large stories in domains where there aren’t direct experimental observations, so I often need to search around in multiple disciplines and integrate different sources of data. It’s like a treasure hunt, and I fill my bag with stuff until it’s heavy enough to support the picture I want to draw. In the workshop, we’ll work together to gather the information we need to make our artwork as accurate as we want it to be.

I will mostly stay out of your art

I’m completely inspired by the many approaches represented in the group!

I’m happy to provide my opinions and share things that have worked for me, but, I think the most powerful resource that we have is each other, and the many diverse approaches that are represented. I know that I’m going to be asking for advice and critiques from the group on my visual experiments–I hope you’ll do the same!

I use several artistic approaches to help improve accessibility of the scientific subjects I draw, including:

  • visual appeal
  • storytelling
  • simplifying/focusing for a given audience

To kickstart our interaction, I’ll find ways that we can explore all of these (and hopefully many more) as we develop our artwork.

Fall Project: Art Show Exploring the Science of COVID-19

I’m currently working on a project with SciCommMake, hosted by SigmaXi and Science Talk, and I’d love for you to contribute. With epidemiologist V. Anne Burg, we’re creating an art show to expand awareness of the science behind SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. For more information, see the little press release from SigmaXi.

We’re hoping to get a bunch of stuff together in time for the SigmaXi meeting in early November, so if you’d like to participate in this, you’ll have a few months to create work. I’m thinking that anything that fits the theme will be appropriate.

We had our introductory meetings at the beginning of September–if you missed it, you can find it here.

I’ll try to do meetings and office hours at two different times. First, 9-10 AM (US Pacific Time)–that gives afternoon times for the US east coast and 6-7 PM for the EU. Second, 9-10 PM (US Pacific Time, day before)–which ends up being about 9 in the morning in India.

A bunch of annoying details

Final show: I will be looking for every way I can to promote it, so art included in the show will be made freely available through creative commons. We can talk about acceptable levels of personal branding, and decide as a group about that.

Please be respectful and don’t share other people’s work, unless you ask first

Announcement channel–this will be my megaphone, so please use the “general” channel when you want to shout out to the whole group.

Feel free to start additional channels to explore topics of interest, and let me know if you have ideas that improve any aspect of this workshop!