Extra Credit: Microbial Worlds

1. Water is Life by Jennifer Moss

This piece really caught my eye and I found it to be really well done. I love that the artist incorporated crude oil into the piece. While the concept behind the art is not wonderful, I think this piece is beautiful and does successfully embody the concept of microorganisms playing a role in oil degradation. Jennifer Moss used a variety of different colors to represent different microbes throughout the spill, with some being more concentrated in certain parts and others being scattered all over. This class has discussed how different microbes play different roles in the midst of an oil spill and I think Moss does a good job of demonstrating that.

2. Mycorrhizae by Gail Priday

This piece is based on the symbiotic relationship between the mycelium of a fungus and the roots of vascular plants. Mycelium help the plants increase their water and nutrient uptake, while the plants provide the fungus with carbohydrates. The piece provides an effective visual, aiding to explain just how interconnected this relationship is. I personally feel this piece is more attractive verbally, as the artist discusses the science in a simplistic, but accurate way, in addition to explaining why he chose this particular topic. Priday says in the statement that it’s a beautiful example for what humanity should strive for, but I don’t see that conveyed in the visual piece. I think it’s a wonderful piece of art, but I read the statement and just did not see it show in the painting. I think if the artist had done something with that idea, incorporated a way for us to learn from it, it would be even better.

3. Connections: Veiled Unveiled by Mariah Henderson and Eric Henderson

This piece touches on the fact many microbes are invisible, even on a microscope, and this is one of the reasons why staining methods are so helpful. We can unveil the formerly veiled microbes because of modern staining techniques (the one mentioned in this piece was crystal violet).  In this class, we have used staining methods to not only see our bacterial isolates, but to also determine a variety of characteristics, including whether they were Gram-Positive or Gram-Negative.

4. What I Would Have Created

Had I been an artist in this show, I probably would have created a piece about the skin microbiome. Assuming I had the skills, I would have liked to have created a painting of the human body, using different colors and shapes to demonstrate that our skin has a wide variety of microorganisms on it, from our feet to our face, due to different temperatures, moisture, etc.



Extra Credit: Microbial Worlds

The art piece I found compelling was by Jennifer Moss. It was a digital photograph of a tree on vinyl. As a lover of music and vinyl records, I was drawn just by the look of her work. I thought it gave it a creative edge and was a unique way to display a piece. The angle, on the ground looking up, of the shot made me feel rooted and therefore one with the microbes around. As a microscopic view of microbes taking place of the sky, it reminded me microbes are everywhere and made me feel that much more surrounded by them.

“De:composition’ by Stephanie Rae Dixon and Mary Beth Leigh was a live art piece where a woman moved in a small box amongst leaves and dirt and other tree matter. The concept was in the name, decomposition, and how microbes help this process. This piece was especially appealing because of a projector that projected the spot with a forest surrounding making one feel like they were in the piece. The piece was enticing and a riveting way to describe decomposition with a body amongst a representation of a part of a forest.

Margo Klass’s “Specimen’ related to our human microbiome lecture. This was a series of dental pieces in poor shape. The concept was about how the human mouth has a world of microbes on its own. With the cavities and missing teeth on some pieces, it appeared he was also showing the damage these microbes can do with poor dental hygiene.

If I was an artist involved with this project show, I would have made a piece about viruses and how they invade cells. I would have created an animated piece with music fitting to an animation of a virus attacking a cell.

Extra Credit: Microbial Worlds

  1. Mysterious Underground, Mycorrhizae’ — Collaboration by Charlotte Bird and Ree Nancarrow

The concept behind this piece was to illuminate the story of the symbiotic relationship between fungi and vascular plants in the coastal and boreal forests. I find this piece to be so esthetically pleasing. The amount of detail that these artists include in the piece is truly admirable. I really enjoy how they chose a quilt to depict this microbial relationship. When I think of a quilt, I think of all of the interconnecting stitching which contribute to the entire piece overall. In a similar fashion, the microorganisms present underneath the grounds surface together work to create that particular habitat. I do feel that these artists were successful in expressing this particular relationship based on the little knowledge of what the underground truly looks like.

  1. Veiled Unveiled’ — Mariah Henderson and Eric Henderson

The idea behind this particular piece was to depict the concept of invisible microorganisms. Although the discovery and analysis of microbial organism has been greatly aided by the microscope, there are still numerous organisms that are unseen due to their transparent bodies. I found this piece to be very aesthetically pleasing due to the vibrant dye that was added to this particular media to unveil the microbial growth. I feel that this piece directly relates to the importance of staining in a laboratory setting in order to better visualize the microbes present.

  1. The Prokaryotes’ — Mariah Henderson and Eric Henderson

Consistently throughout the semester we have referred back to the tree of life depicting the phylogenetic relationship between the three major domains of life. It is often assumed that Eukaryotes are the most abundant and diverse domain on Earth. As we quickly learned in this course, prokaryotic life forms, including Bacteria and Archaea, greatly outnumber this taxon. The piece created really emphasizes the great diversity present in this domain of life and how they are evolutionarily connected through this phylogenetic tree.

  1. If I were an artist involved in this project, I would have focused on the human microbiome and its affect on human health by constructing a collage or perhaps through a poem.

Extra Credit: Microbial Worlds

  1. “Impermafrost” by Gail Priday immediately caught my eye. The colors are bright and the composition is fluid, which makes it incredibly appealing. I really like the name as well, it gives a very clear idea of what the whole composition  represents in just  one word. The concept ties together with the theme of the exhibition, “times of change”, by depicting the melting of permafrost and the flow of carbon that results from it and microbial respiration. In contrast with the background, the microbes are made up of a variety of different colors which makes them seem more alive.
  2. “Deceptive Beauty” by Ree Nancarrow is colorful and vibrant. The pictures remind me of familiar scenes, like the black spruce forest landscape, the lakes, the bubbles trapped under the ice, and the fires. But the piece also expresses the scientific concept of greenhouse gases and their influence on climate change. The CO2 and methane created by respiration and melting of permafrost help in causing global warming (which is shown in the fire panel). Overall, the piece gives a haunting feeling of beauty that is very intense, but also quickly disappearing, and hiding some terrible secret within itself. The artist did an amazing job in expressing the science behind the painting.
  3. “Print-making on carved wood” by Sara Tabbert first interested me because I thought the name sounded familiar; now I know she is the one that created the artwork in the Murie lobby. I always thought that piece was really beautiful, and this one was as well. The topic relates to our class since it represents Zika viruses. We had a class about viruses this semester, and an additional lecture as well, by Dan Stinchcomb, about the vaccine progression for deadly viruses.
  4. If I had been an artist in this exhibit, I might have worked on microbial predation. There is something fascinating about the food chain on a microscopic scale; the idea of microbe eating microbe eating microbe gives me a sense of the primordial and a connection to the eukaryotic world as well.



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.

Extra Credit: Microbial Worlds

Emergence: The Warming Climate is Waking Up Sleeping Microbes by Nancy Hausle-Johnson

I found this piece very pleasing. The striking colors and patterns made it very interesting to look at. I feel like this piece does embody the concept of waking microbes. The different sections hint that the microbes on top are waking up while the ones on the bottom are poised to make their appearance.

Permafrost Warming  by Mariah Henderson & Eric Henderson

I found it very interesting that so many pieces were over permafrost thawing. However, it does make sense since the thawing permafrost will have such a strong effect on our lives. This piece, I feel, is one of the best representations of thawing permafrost. In the first picture, you can see what looks like blue ice cycles and then small amounts of microbes. Then in the second picture, the ice cycles are absent and the picture is dominated by the growth of the microbes that have been released after the thaw. I think that it is very aesthetically pleasing and would not have done anything differently.

Inoculation The 1%  by Mariah Henderson & Eric Henderson

This piece makes me think of our term project. I had always wondered just how microbes were culture and after lab I now know. It still astounds me that less than 1% of bacterial species can actually be cultured like this. This also makes me wonder what bacteria is present from my collection site that I  was unable to culture.


I find it interesting how microbes are able to transfer genes horizontally to aid in resistance to antibiotics. I do not know how I would have shown this for sure by I might have used conjugation or transduction. I would have picked these two because I think that they will be easiest to show with the most aesthetic appeal.

EXTRA CREDIT: Microbial Worlds art exhibit

1. “Impermafrost’ by Gail Priday, is a beautiful piece of work that I found particularly visually appealing. I liked the color choices and the circular parameter that it was created in. Gail’s description talks about what permafrost is and how the melting of permafrost can lead to accelerated climate change conducted by microbes. After reading the artist statement I really appreciated the art because I recognized how the rising greenhouse gases were illustrated. I think that the microbes were illustrated in an appealing way as well. For these reasons, I think this work of art successfully captured the concepts it set out to portray.

2. “Veiled Unveiled’ by Mariah Henderson & Eric Henderson is an interesting piece that describes the laboratory issue that comes about when a microbe cannot clearly be seen even when it is under a microscope. This has to do with the transparent nature of many microbes. Scientists’ remedy is to use a variety of stains that are available in the lab. This art piece illustrated this concept by illustrating what microbes look like before and after a stain. I thought this was an interesting piece of work and explained the concept in a fun way.

3.’Inoculation The 1%’ by Mariah Henderson & Eric Henderson describes a concept we discussed in class. About only 1% of bacteria can be cultured in a petri dish in a laboratory setting. Obviously this limits the extent of microbiology that can be conducted by physical methods like plate streaking. This art piece plays into that idea by creating illustration of the “1%’ that can actually be cultured- (the bacteria the lab had actually grown on petri dishes) Putting the number it in that context makes it a bit unbelievable just how small our scope of microbes is without molecular biology techniques.

4. If I created artwork for this show I would consider capturing the concept of microbial ubiquity and diversity. Since microbes are so different and can be found in so many opposing places and exist with different lifestyles. I think the variety of environments  could provide some interesting work. I would like to create a visual representation of some of these environments.

Microbial Worlds Art Extra Credit

Art Piece #1: Mysterious Underground Collaboration: Mysterious Underground, Mycorrhizae.

Artists: Charlotte Bird and Ree Nancarrow

Charlotte Bird and Ree Nancarrow

What drew me to this work was the fact that there is so much detail which keeps your attention because each time you look at it you notice something new. The purpose of this art was to promote awareness of what was beneath our feet that we can’t see. I love the cross sectional view point that this piece shows and I think that by doing it from that view point and putting most of the focus on whats under the ground as opposed to whats above it, really gets the point across. Even though the piece does focus pretty heavily on the fungi that are underground it also shows some fungi above ground that we are able to see when out in the woods. I think that it was great and really important that Bird consulted with Dr. Laursen to ensure that the art was accurate, that the fungi were placed in the proper environment and that the plants and fungi were interacting in the art as they would in the real world.


Art Piece #2: Toolick Chain of Lakes Collaboration

Artists: Charlotte Bird and Ree Nancarrow Ree Nancarrow and Charlotte Bird

What drew me to this art is the cool colors and its abstract nature, when I saw that the artists for these pieces were the same artists for  Mysterious Underground Collaboration: Mysterious Underground, Mycorrhizae I was surprised because the styles are so different, almost opposite in fact. This piece is based on the article Biogeorgraphy of Bacterioplankton in Lakes and Streams of an Arctic Tundra Catchmen  by Byron C. Crump Ree consulted with Jason Dobkowski to ensure that the art was accurate. The purpose of this piece was to make the microbial world that surrounds us visible. I think that this concept was really well conveyed in this piece because you can really see a flow and connections between the communities but if you look close you can also see that the art is like a collage of different pictures which I think is meant to represent the different microbial communities present.


Art Piece #3: Deceptive Beauty

ARee Nancarrow rtists: Ree Nancarrow and Debbie Clarke Moderow (writer)

I really liked this art work because its a great depiction of what the lakes surrounding Fairbanks can look like in different seasons, I also really like how we can see the methane bubbles spreading everywhere. The purpose of this piece is to show how methane and carbon dioxide have affected the permafrost and release of methane in the northern lakes. This piece has a great connection to what we have learned in class about how the methane bubbles form and the carbon cycle and the activity that we did in class when we had to draw the carbon cycle.

If I were to participate in the Microbial Worlds art show I would most likely do a piece on how oil spills in the ocean can be cleaned up by microbes. I really found the in class lecture on the topic very interesting. I would most likely use blue and black water colors to simulate the spread of oil in the ocean and than use a white crayon to represent the microbes present that pop up in the black oil.


Morgen Southwood Microbial Worlds Assignment


Artist: Sarah Tabbert

Piece, Printmaking and woodcarving

The pieces are inspired by photos taken with the magnification of a microscope. Some of them are her photos and some are not. I found the images visually appealing; I liked the use of color to liven the microscopic images. What made the pieces most attractive to me was her connection of the sensation of looking through a microscope and goings snorkeling. I hadn’t ever considered that before, but once she mentioned it I realized that I felt the same way.



Artist: Nancy Hausle-Johnson

Piece: Emergence: The waroming Climate is waking up sleeping microbes.

This piece is probably my favorite. The vibrant photos demand attention. The three panels are from different stages of thawing permafrost. Permafrost provides the ability to travel through time to the point at which these microbes were preserved. Many of the microbes can be revived, which means that with thawing permafrost, there is be a massive immigration of time traveling microbes that will have the potential to alter the fluxes and sinks of nutrients and chemicals in our artic and global environment. This analysis of microbes at different stages of the thawing process can give estimates on what the future ecology of artic microbes will be with a changing artic. This piece is not only beautiful, but a fascinating peak at the future and the past. I wouldn’t change a thing about this exhibit.



Artist: Ree Nancarrow

Piece: Deceptive Beauty

This piece uses the quilting as the medium to show several elements relating to methane in the artic. The central column sows bubbles rising from what I assume is an anoxic population of methanogens. The methane swirls in the central pane, and is burned in the top (which may represent methane literally burning or the warming greenhouse effect methane has). There are panels on the left and right that look like methane bubbles in liquid water, and some that look like truly realistic frozen bubbles. I really enjoy the top panels of the black spruce, it makes this piece feel like its locally relevant, not just a depiction of any old methane source, but an Alaskan one.


4) If I was going to present an art piece at this exhibit I think I would have worked with something related to the human micro biome. I really like the image that is associated with Dr. Drown’s micro biome class. Maybe I could have isolated really microbes from my body and then collaged them together to make a model human.

Microbial Worlds


Impermafrost by Gail Priday

I really liked Gail’s art pieces I thought they were simple but that they also really captured the essence of microbial worlds and the idea that microbes are everywhere. I liked that she took concepts that we see a lot in Alaska, like permafrost, and applied that into her work. I think what mostly captured me by her work, was her use of colors, which I thought was done very well and in a simplistic way, I think it really captures the diversity of microbes.

I definitely think she captured the idea of permafrost, and the vast majority of microbes that are frozen in the permafrost, but because of global warming they are now starting to become exposed, and how that affects the global climate.


Beach Plastic by Margo Klass

I thought Margo Klass’s peace on plastic waste was very interesting and a good way of giving people a visual of how the increased need for plastic, is also responsible for the accumulation of it, and how it has become a global concern. Margo collected plastic waste form beaches in Oregon for three years and made this art piece to try and draw attention to the problem (plastic pollution). In her statement, she also talked about how scientist form China and the US recently discovered that polystyrene and Styrofoam can be biodegraded by mealworms.

From my perspective, I think her art piece is successful in what she is trying to do, raise awareness for plastic accumulation in the environment. I think that the information provided makes the whole piece come together.


EMERGENCE: The Warming Climate is Waking Up Sleeping Microbes by Nancy Hausle-Johnson

I think Nancy’s piece connects well with the lecture we had on ecology and the carbon cycle, but also to lectures on microbial diversity. When permafrost melts many of the microbes that have been lying dormant suddenly emerge and become a part of the bigger ecosystem. These microbes also become available to bigger organisms meaning that they get brought back into the carbon cycle.

Nancy’s piece features microbes that are emerging due to the melting of permafrost, and how at different stages of thawing influenced the diversity of microbes they saw.


What sort of piece might you have created?

I’m not sure what I would work with, but I do enjoy taking pictures and the idea of how microbes can help us work against global warming and climate change. Therefore I think it would have to have something to do with that.