Mixing Science in Art
RIT School of Art Professor Eileen Feeney Bushnell led a research project that investigated using microbes in printmaking. Funded by an AdvanceRIT Connect Grant, Bushnell’s research team consisted of Jennifer Liedkie, senior lab specialist in the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences, and then-students Sarah Kinard (Fine Arts Studio MFA) and Erika McCarthy (Fine Arts Studio BFA).
Inspired by her heavy interest in the sciences, Bushnell saw an opportunity to explore science in art, merging art with environmental science. The team created an experimental series of prints incorporating live microorganisms and related representational forms into hybrid two-dimensional images. Through the research, the team tangibly explored contemporary biological, scientific and cultural issues.
They experimented with the growth of microorganisms that related conceptually and geographically to concepts and forms being explored in artwork. Biological forms and their inherent characteristics of color and growth patterns were integrated into the creative work.
The project wasn’t scientific inquiry by its standard definition, but rather an exploration of life in another paradigm, which revealed new ways of seeing and thinking. Bushnell found the experimentation with 4D imagery in a traditionally static discipline expanded the potential of printmaking and the direct integration of contemporary cultural issues.