Extra Credit: Microbial Worlds

  1. Name (piece name and artist) and describe an art piece that you found compelling aesthetically (was attractive or interesting to you in terms of its visual, verbal, or other sensory impact). Do you feel that this work of art successfully embodied the concept behind it? Why or why not? (3 pts)

Impermafrost, Gail Priday: I found this piece very appealing. I really liked the collage technique that this artist used. I felt that this piece illustrated very well the impact that melting permafrost can have on global warming. Most of the colors are neutral, illustrating desertification. There are also warm colors that illustrate microbes breaking down organic matter, and generating greenhouse gases that further contribute to this process.

  1. Name another piece in the exhibit that is based on an interesting concept, based on the  written science statement associated with it. Summarize the concept and describe the piece. Do you feel that the art piece is as aesthetically compelling (attractive visually, verbally, etc.) as it is conceptually interesting (including scientifically)? Why or why not? If not, can you suggest something that the artists could have done differently? (3 pts)

The Prokaryotes, Mariah Henderson and Eric Henderson: This piece is a phylogeny that is using  encaustic and oil pastel on glass. It is a circular phylogenetic tree with many branches that representsthe diversity of prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea). The intention is to illustrate that although we cannot see prokaryotes, they are abundant and present everywhere. They also outnumber every life form that we can see without a microscope. I liked how the artists explained that although we normally associate life with larger, multicellular eukaryotes, when in fact the majority of living organisms are prokaryotes. The phylogeny that they painted clearly puts this into proportion by using different colors. A small area of the piece is dedicated to a group that I am assuming represents eukaryotes. The remaining branches are all of the diverse life that we cannot see.  I feel that their concept was represented very well – I can’t think of anything that I would have done differently.

  1. Connections: Identify another piece in the exhibit that involves a microbiological concept you’ve learned during class. Explain the concept and how the art piece relates to it. (3 pts)

Water if Life, Jennifer Moss: Crude oil from oil spills can be naturally degraded by microbes in the environment that use the oil as a carbon source. When a spill happens. like the Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, populations of these bacteria become more abundant. This piece is a visual representation of an oil spill in the ocean, with many different colored specs that represent these oil-degrading microbes. Many different populations of microbes are shown, indicating that diverse microbial communities help to clean up oil spills.

  1. If you were an artist involved in this project show, what microbiological concept would you have worked with? What sort of piece might you have created? (1 pt)

I would have made a visual representation of peptidoglycan. The cross-linked arrangements of NAG and NAM could inspire a beautiful geometric drawing.

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