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 biomedical sciences alter social, ethical and cultural values in society. Coming to the fore in the early 1990s, bio art is neither media specific nor locally bounded. It is an international movement with practitioners in such regions as Europe, the U.S., Russia, Asia, Australia and the Americas.
Several sub-genres of Bio Art exist within this overarching term: Artists who employ the iconography of the 20th- and 21st-century sciences, including molecular and cellular genetics, transgenically altered living matter, reproductive technologies and neurosciences. All traditional media, including painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing are employed to convey novel ways of representing life forms. Artists who utilize computer software, systems theory and simulations to investigate aspects of the biological sciences such as evolution, artificial life and robotics through digital sculpture and new media installations. Artists employing biological matter itself as their medium, including processes such as tissue engineering, plant breeding, transgenics and ecological reclamation.
The new SVA Fine Arts Nature and Technology Laboratory is located in the heart of New York City’s Chelsea gallery district. It houses microscopes for photo and video, skeleton collections, specimen collections, slide collections, an herbarium and aquarium as well as a library.