Up Close With Science and Art

Scientific images generated by microscopy are gaining mainstream popularity as objects of art. Perhaps it’s the intricate imagery, or the vivid coloration of fluorescent dyes and proteins used as biological markers, or simply the wonder of seeing features of organisms that are normally hidden from the naked eye.

Stowers Investigator Jennifer Gerton, PhD, appreciates the art and beauty that result from scientific imaging. Last fall, Gerton invited some members of the InterUrban ArtHouse in Overland Park, Kansas, to the Institute. Their tour passed by some stunning images on display outside the Stowers Microscopy Center. The Microscopy Center’s display stimulated discussions of science and art, and eventually sparked the idea of a public display of Stowers research images. “I am motivated to share these beautiful images with the public and was glad to find many others shared this enthusiasm,” Gerton says.

With help from the InterUrban ArtHouse, the idea grew into a collaboration between the Institute and the Johnson County Library to sponsor an image exhibit that would provide the public a glimpse into the dazzling images produced by Stowers scientists as well as an opportunity to meet and talk with the researchers themselves.

The exhibit, titled “Scientific Micro Imaging,” went on display at the Cedar Roe location in Roeland Park, Kansas, in early February. The exhibit featured ten scientific images that represented three general scales—whole organisms and biological systems, tissues and cells, and subcellular biology.

A public reception for the exhibit, titled “Up Close with Science and Art,” was hosted in early April. The reception provided an opportunity for library patrons and members of the community to learn more about the images in the exhibit and mingle with Stowers scientists and InterUrban ArtHouse artists.

Johnson County Library Information Specialist and co-organizer of the event, Michelle Holden, says, “This is exactly the kind of event we seek to provide our community. It’s an opportunity to connect with experts in their fields and expand our understanding of science and art.”

The exhibit traveled to the Gardner Library in Gardner, Kansas, for the summer and will be on display at the Lackman Library in Lenexa, Kansas, in the fall.