From the Laboratory to the Studio:
Interdisciplinary Practices in Bio Art
Bio Art Summer Residency Program
From anatomical studies to landscape painting to the biomorphism of surrealism, the biological realm historically provided a significant resource for numerous artists. More recently, Bio Art has become a term referring to intersecting domains of the biological sciences and their incorporation into the plastic arts. Of particular importance in Bio Art is to summon awareness of the ways in which advancing biotechnologies alter social, ethical and cultural values in society. This interdisciplinary residency will take place in the new SVA Bio Art Laboratory located in the heart of New York City’s Chelsea gallery district.
The SVA Bio Art Lab is a fusion of a 19th century cabinet of curiosities with a state of the art biotechnology laboratory. In addition to housing specimen collections, herbariums, aquariums, microscopic photo & video stations, and a diverse library, the space facilitates culturing organisms, sterile techniques and a range of molecular biology protocols.
In addition to lab access, each resident is granted a private studio space. The residency culminates in a public exhibition. Demonstrations include microscopy, plant tissue engineering, molecular cuisine and the production of micro ecosystems. Students may work in any media, including the performing arts. The residency will be led by artist Suzanne Anker, Chair of the BFA Fine Arts Department. Faculty and former visiting speakers include artists, scientists and museum professionals such as Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Giovanni Frazzetto, Francois-Joseph Lapointe and Tarah Rhoda, among others.
NOTE: A portfolio is required for review and acceptance to this program. Early application is highly recommended.
SVA Art and Science Laboratory
School of Visual Arts, New York
The Bio Art Lab was founded in 2011 as part of the SVA’s BFA Fine Arts new facility consisting of 54,000 square feet in the heart of Chelsea, NYC. The Lab was founded and is directed by Suzanne Anker, Chair of the BFA Fine Arts Department. Conceived as a place where scientific tools and techniques become tools and techniques in art practice, the Lab is the result of many people’s expertise, research and sustained effort. Such deftness and collaborative efforts continue to remain crucial in developing this facility to its full potential.
Joe Tekippe and Luis Navarro were responsible for all high-tech computer access including our full range of hardware and software installation and maintenance. More recently Michael Falk has coordinated, experimented with and set up the necessary photographic resources we need in place for our microscopic image making. Daniel Wapner and Sung Jin Choi used their skills to seamlessly build both stainless steel and aluminum stands housing our fish and plants. Mark Rosen set up a check-in check-out system for our library. Brandon Ballengée added his knowledge concerning fresh water fish and frog tanks in addition to the acquisition of a chemical hood where the preservation of specimens and cleaning and staining of aquatic animals could take place. Dr. Ignacio Lopez-Coviella was a great consultant in developing our microscopic practices, pointing us in the direction of three types of microscopes: a compound microscope, a dissecting microscope and an inverted microscope. Marine biologist Joe Di Giorgis expanded our collection of microscopes by loaning us a full array of dissecting microscopes and analyzing the camera requirements for each. Molecular scientists, Oliver Medvedik and Ellen Jorgensen from Genspace consulted in regard to our incubators, HEPA filter and autoclave as well as helping to design projects relevant to Bio Art practice. Ellen and Oliver are also our current “scientists in residence” working with students on the use of bio-materials for art projects and the barcoding of plants from the surrounding environment. Tarah Rhoda researched labware, lab rules and formats for molecular cuisine and tissue culturing as well as lighting systems for plants and lab protocol, safety and workflow. Many student workers were instrumental in maintaining the live plants and organisms in the Lab with care, integrity, and enthusiasm. And I say the same for the various visiting artists who have shared their expertise with us (see separate link.) Scott Vaughn of NY Aquarium in NYC manages our salt water aquarium which houses coral, an anemone, hermit crabs and starfish. Sebastian Cocioba from NY Botanics, introduced techniques for plant tissue culturing of African violets and venus fly-traps. He is also developing an “SVA” palette for painting with bacteria. Sebastian and Sung have been helping us develop a molecular biology component of our lab employing PCR practices, synthetic biology and forensics in analyzing molecular data. Raul Gomez Valverde has designed our micro website, www.bioart.sva.edu, and has produced outstanding pictures of student works produced in situ. George Boorujy has donated marvelous taxidermied duck specimens which appear as if in flight. And of course our great thanks to President David Rhodes and Provost Jeff Nesin for allowing us to go forward with this great resource.