Friday, January 13, 2012

Biological Art

My official topic for my blog is this: consider biology as art. Quite honestly, I had not thought of it as so until I saw some magnificent scanning electron and confocal microscope images. I am myself guilt of having a picture or two that look like abstract art but are really experimental images.  Above my reading window, I have framed a confocal picture of stained fruit fly ovaries which I had dissected. People are often interested in the picture, but are taken aback when I tell them what the image really is.

Biological art reminds us that the world around us is limitless and our power to understand it is minute. It always astounds me when I look at some of these images how lucky we are to live in such an interesting world. I realized this during my summer internship at the University of Michigan, where I learned to dissect and study the fruit fly. At the the University of Michigan’s Center for Organogenesis, they have a website dedicated to Bioartography ( On this webpage are beautiful pictures that one may purchase. Each has a catalog number that gives a description of what is shown in the image. One of my particular favorites is #20, (, which is mouse embryonic stem cells that over express the protein Geminin. 

Websites such as Etsy also have an impressive array of biological art. The shop Breathe Decor has many prints which I am drawn too. In particular, this montage of three marine prints ( Another particular favorite shop of mine is called MicroBioArt, and specializes in print montages and tapestries of bacteria and viruses, such as Polio, Influenza, and Ebola. ( Wouldn't that be quite a conversation starter?
 "I love this print! What is it?"
"It's actually Ebola!"

In essence, beauty in the world can be found in just about anywhere. From your backyard, to the sky, and even under the microscope. Viewing the biological world in terms of art has given me another way to appreciate and think about what I and countless others study. So next time someone presents you a picture to view, think that it may not be what it seems. Until the next madness strikes!


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