Art Of Life Exhibit At The Library

The library is featuring a guest exhibit in our first floor exhibit cases. The exhibit has been curated by Professor John Castorino and contains works created in his Art of Life course. The exhibit is free and open to the public and will run from April 24 to May 20. Below are John’s thoughts about the class and about the work we’re exhibiting:

The semester started with a bit of a shock for the students of The Art of Life.  Students were asked to create drawings of a cell using only their preconceived notions and memories from other classes; they were not allowed to look anything up.  They were then thrown into the laboratory to stain living cells with fluorescent markers without being told exactly what they were staining for.  They used the fluorescent microscope to take pictures of the cells and were then asked to create a second drawing based off of what they saw in real cells.  While the stains that they applied were specifically for carbohydrates, the actin cytoskeleton, and DNA, what students saw in the cells was incredibly varied: fire, the universe, birds, eyes looking back at you.

Throughout the semester, we have examined many biological phenomena all the way from basic chemical structures, to cellular organization, to cell division, to cell death, to human and plant anatomy.  We have addressed a wide array of topics from pH chemistry to the work of other “bioartists.”  We have created a bioart vocabulary to help explain some of what we see and generalize repeated phenomena to make them relatable to a wider audience.

In the display case, we are showing a sample of works by the class, as a preview of what will be a final exhibition in Cole Science Center on the northern part of the second floor hallway from May 1 through commencement.  Some show the progression of the initial cell project, including actual microscopy images (slightly manipulated).  Three more are studies on scale (e.g. when thinking about what we see with our eyes versus what we see as we go higher magnification in the microscope).  Another two are interpretations of cell division and the life and death of cells.

Also in the display case is the book Portraits of the Mind (open to pages displaying a research technique called the brainbow, which allows researchers to trace individual neurons throughout sections of the brain).  The book explores our understanding of the human brain throughout history; however, it also shows just how beautifully art and biology can be linked!


The library is excited to host this exhibit of student work. If you are a student or faculty member and you have an idea for an exhibit at the library, please contact Jimi Jones at or 413.559.5761.

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