This July, Symbiartic will celebrate its 4th birthday along with the entire Scientific American Blog Network. To date, we have featured more than 230 science artists in over 460 posts as the field continues to expand and come into its own. Featuring other peoples' work and being a part of this burgeoning field has been immensely rewarding but Glendon, Katie, and I are all artists in our own right and as such, we are not satisfied simply reporting on what others are doing in the field. We want to do our part to push our corner of the field by trying new things on this blog. We'll still be a go-to source for emerging and established science artists in the field, but we'll also be adding a few new initiatives in the spirit of experimentation and blogging.
The first new initiative is designed to showcase how different artists bring the same science concept to light in wildly different ways. We're calling it Art Takes on Science. Each of us on Symbiartic brings something different to the table; given the same input, we produce totally different works. If our goal is to get science disseminated as widely as possible to the most diverse audiences imaginable, this can only be a win. Inspired by major publications that have taken artistic risks before (see The New Yorker's Finger Painting blog by Jorge Columbo and Jeff Scher's experimental videos on The New York Times' Opinionator blog), it only seems appropriate that Symbiartic take up the torch in the name of scienceart and begin experimenting with something new. You can follow this new initiative with the usual hashtags #sciart and #symbiartic but also #arttakesonsci. If it takes, I have visions of inviting a handful of artists to add their unique interpretations of relevant science themes to our conversation.
Our first topic is intentionally vague: new beginnings. First off, we came up with the concept in December when we discovered the SciAm Blog Network would be reduced by half and we would be staying on. The change represented a new beginning for us and many of our esteemed colleagues, whether they stayed on or left. More generally, as humans we are fascinated with the concept of beginnings, and particularly beginning again. We arbitrarily define the beginning of the year in January, and many of us make a list of resolutions as though the start of the calendar year offers a clean slate, a fresh beginning, a chance to redefine and renew. We (less arbitrarily) celebrate the Spring Equinox and anticipate the reawakening of plants and flowers as a new cycle of life. We contemplate the question "what came first? The chicken or the egg?" and marvel at the concept of the Big Bang as the beginning of everything as we know it. What came before the Big Bang? There is much to explore.
Over the next week or so, we will each post an original piece of art exploring this idea through the lens of scienceart. But before we unveil our new work, we'd like to begin again with introductions for each of us, so you know where we're coming from, what we bring to the table, and where to find us if you want to engage with us on social media about the series and the work. In no particular order, we are:
Glendon Mellow is science artist and speaker on artist's issues with a Bachelor of Fine Art Honors in Studio. His paintings and drawings often blend mythological themes with prehistoric animals, and in 2007 his personal art blog, The Flying Trilobite was born. Since then, his work has appeared in magazines, books, blogs, museums and on people's skin as commissioned tattoo designs. Increasingly, Glendon is speaking to classrooms and conferences about the intersection of art + science, challenging notions of copyright and artist responsibility and trying to connect researchers and science writers with visual communicators. Website | Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Flying Trilobite Schwag
Katie McKissick is a science writer and web cartoonist. She fell in love with science at an early age, and after earning her degree in biology and master’s in teaching, she taught high school biology in Los Angeles. Her experiences in the classroom led her to start creating content for teachers and science enthusiasts (and even people who find science a tad intimidating) to enjoy. After years blogging and cartooning as Beatrice the Biologist, Katie has published four books and worked with several non-profits, universities, and educational publishers to bring science education to the masses. Website | Tumblr | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Beatrice Schwag
Kalliopi Monoyios is an independent science artist and illustrator. She got her start as a science illustrator and outreach coordinator in Neil Shubin's lab at the University of Chicago where she learned a PhD's-worth of information about how to communicate science to a large array of different audiences, from scientists to the general public. Now, she is focusing her efforts on raising the profile of scienceart as a way to broaden the public's awareness and interest in science as well as pursuing her own quirky interests in the microbiome, the diversity of life, and our connection (or disconnection) with the natural world. Website | Twitter
Blogs should be hotbeds of experimentation and innovation, so we hope these new ideas will excite and invigorate our readers and our field. As always, we encourage you to communicate with us in the comments below and wherever we interact online. To new beginnings!