BEVERLY, MA.- Montserrat College of Art Gallery is pleased to announce its new exhibition, Its Alive: A Laboratory of Biotech Art. From a tomato that rots as mechanized needles repeatedly plunge into it at viewers discretion, to butterflies whose wing patterns appear to have morphed into the designer logos of Coach handbags, all of the artwork on display is, was, or appears to be, alive.
The Montserrat Gallery will thus transform into a laboratory, with a range of experiments in progress, in an effort to raise viewer awareness and understanding of the often-controversial issues that surround cutting-edge research in biotechnology: a drawing that consists of living, bioluminescent bacteria by geneticist and artist, Dr. Hunter OReilly, will be on display in a small darkroom; Jennifer Willet and Shawn Bailey will have prototypes of unusual cancerous cysts, or teratoma, which are being studied as examples of spontaneous cloning; Kevin Jones Pseudo Tree, a synthetic robotic tree, will examine current discussions in biotechnology centered on cloning, mutations and genetic engineering.
The genetic revolution has turned the artists studio into a laboratory, the artist into a researcher, and living tissue technology into a medium. Artists are experimenting with biological substances in creative new ways. The risky business of using living organisms as a new art media and the artist as scientist has brought to the forefront a whole new set of ethical considerations and questions of responsibility.
While scientists are artificially cloning deer in Texas for use on private hunting farms, and people can get their deceased pets cloned, why cant artists explore similar territory? asks exhibit Curator and Gallery Director Leonie Bradbury in the exhibit catalogue.
The exhibit has received generous funding from New England Biolabs, Inc. in Ipswich; Cell Signaling Technology, Inc. in Danvers; and Biogen Idec Foundation in Cambridge. Its Alive joins eleven artists from Boston, Chicago, Montreal, New Orleans and Toronto who currently venture into new art media such as living matter and the science that sustains them. Bradbury hopes to open a dialogue between artists and scientists, which will extend outside of the gallery into an artist panel. The panel will include two scientists from New England Biolabs and Cell Signaling Technology, Inc., and three artists who are participating in the exhibit, including panel moderator Dr. Hunter OReilly, who is both a geneticist and an artist.
"This exciting exhibition bridges science and art, emphasizing the importance of both for daily living. Too often science seems inaccessible to most people while art may only be appreciated superficially. Here is a chance for the two to merge and encourage dialogue between artists, scientists and the general public, said Richard J. Roberts, Ph.D., FRS, Chief Scientific Officer at New England Biolabs, Inc. and the 1993 Nobel Laureate for Physiology or Medicine.
Participating artists are Adam Brandejs (Toronto, ONT), Shawn Bailey (Montreal, QC), Brian Burkhardt (Boston), Jennifer Hall (Boston), Blyth Hazen (Boston), Steve Hollinger (Boston), Kevin Jones (New Orleans), Brian Knep (Boston), Hunter O¹Reilly (Chicago), Tanit Sakakini (Boston), Jennifer Willet (Montreal, QC).