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KATHERINE SHAUGHNESSY



ARTISTS COMBINE BIOLOGY, LIVING MEDIA

CMU LIFE Et cetera (Mt. Pleasant, MI)
Published on March 18, 1998
2000- Madison Newspapers, Inc.
By Jill Cahill http://www.cmlife.cmich.edu/archives/spring98/mar98/3.18.98/Etc1.html



It has been said that art imitates life, but an exhibit currently held at the University Art Gallery makes art out of life itself.

The Art + Bio exhibit showcases the work of six artists who used living media and biological themes to create a variety of images.

According to Mary Dole, director of the gallery, the concept of the exhibit is art influenced by biology.

"It's a variety of art, including artist books, drawings, photographic media and some tempera painting on mylar," Dole said.

One series of photographs, by artist Hubert Duprat, uses Caddis worms as its central theme. Caddis worms build nests using raw materials from the surrounding environment.

In Duprat's photographs, the worms are seen emerging from nests of gold and semi-precious stones, which Duprat provided as building materials.

David Stairs, CMU art faculty member and co-curator of the exhibit, appreciated the work

"It's an amazing piece," he said.

George Gessert, of Eugene, Ore., is co-curator of the display. "George is one of the most renowned conceptual artists in Oregon," Stairs said.

According to Stairs, the exhibit represents "an emotional response to the expanding macro and microcosms." Both Stairs and Gessert are acquainted with other artists working with biological themes. The artists were chosen for the exhibit specifically for their work in this area.

Stairs said both he and Gessert are "environment radicals" and this exhibit emphasizes the importance of biology and the natural sciences.

The exhibit will be covered in an upcoming issue of Leonardo, a journal of art and technology published by the MIT Press.

Coincidentally, the gallery is holding an exhibit with a similar theme in the west gallery adjacent to the main gallery.

"Adventures in Bioengineering" features the work of Katherine Shaughnessy, the art department's Artist-in-Residence. The exhibit will be displayed until March 27 and consists of an assortment of half-human, half-animal mutants.

The display centers around "Princess Isabella," which Shaughnessy has conceptualized as a woman with the hindquarters of a deer.

"Princess Isabella" is visible from the entrance to the gallery, surrounded by silk flowers and her fellow mutants, some of which are housed in wire cages.

"Adventures in Bioengineering" has less basis in reality than Art + Bio, but the nature theme is just as apparent.



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