The art of science and the science of art.

Windows on Evolution - can you outdo "March of Progress" imagery?


Windows on Evolution - can you create the iconic image of this extraordinary idea?


Charles Darwin's grand discovery of evolution by natural selection (oh and hey - what's up, Wallace!) has been with us for over 150 years and transformed medicine, society and any number of scientific disciplines. Paleoart and nature illustration are thriving, lively fields.

So why are we still stuck with the Ascent of Man, March of Progress imagery as the iconic image of evolution? (I hesitate to call it Ascent of "Humans" - the gender bias of the image is as outdated and iconic as the linear path it suggests.)

The original "March of Progress" (1965) by {link url=""}Rudolph Zallinger{/link} for Time-Life books. This image should totally be a jumble of primates jockeying for position and way more crowded. Someone fix this.

It's speaks volumes that even an inaccurate and tongue-in-cheek version of this image can cause such dissonance in creationists when the successive primates would like to be a Pepper too.

Really creationists? *Really??*


Science-Art Nature, a group with one of the shortest and most elegant mission statements I've ever read, wants to see if today's generation in the burgeoning field of science-art can do better than a line-up of sexist apes or evolution-via-soda.

From the Windows on Evolution site:

"Science Art-Nature invites you to participate in a juried virtual exhibit, WINDOWS ON EVOLUTION: An Artistic Celebration of Charles Darwin, commemorating Darwin Day, February 12, 2013.

  • The top 40 entries will be posted on Darwin Day, but all qualifying works will eventually be added.
  • The exhibit will remain accessible through the Science Art-Nature website indefinitely.

"We intend to have the exhibit announced through various websites including that of the Darwin Day Organization. Darwin Day, as described there, is “an international celebration of science and humanity.” Visit their site to see videos, lectures on evolution, and information on Darwin, evolution, Darwin Day events and more.

"As always, our aim is to display and promote the best contemporary Science Art and to encourage discourse between the scientific and artistic communities."

(More information and the forms here.)

Deadline for entries is October 15th, and there's a small fee to enter. They're also taking donations to help make this exhibit free to view and giving away swag to donors over certain thresholds - the standard crowdsourcing-for-awesomeness model.

Have you got what it takes to describe evolution and fire the imagination of the masses? A painting almost done, an image in your sketchbook, an idea noodling around in your head that you've never gotten to? Now's the time to create and add to the grandeur of modern science art and communication.

Make sure to hover over this image at the {link url=""}Windows on Evolution{/link} page to reveal all the species! © Carel Brest Van Kempen.

- -

Windows on Evolution Entry Guide

Donation incentives! Help make this gallery possible and get evolutionary swag!

Windows on Evolution Gallery - launching February 12 2013

Science-Art Nature

Carel Brest Van Kempen - inhumanly talented artist who designed the logo, co-organizer of the event.

Darryl Wheye - artist, human dynamo behind Science-Art Nature, co-organizer.

Twitter @SciArtNature


- -

Disclosure - I was briefly on the Board on Science-Art Nature and have helped with this event a little. Because it's awesome. This post was written by me and not the organizers. -Glendon

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Email this Article