UMSL exhibition explores the nexus of art and science | St. Louis Public Radio

UMSL exhibition explores the nexus of art and science

Sep 29, 2011

There’s an unusual art exhibition going on right now on the campus of the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

The exhibition showcases three artists from the St. Louis region whose work blurs the lines between art and science.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra talked with the artists and the show’s curator, and produced this sound portrait of the exhibition.


MUSIC: Excerpt from Music for Marcel Duchamp (1947) by John Cage. Played by Juan Hidalgo, prepared piano.


Artist Brigham Dimick

TERRY SUHRE: "My name’s Terry Suhre, I’m the director for Gallery 210 at UMSL."

BRIGHAM DIMICK: "My name’s Brigham Dimick and I teach at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, I run the drawing area."

TERRY SUHRE: "He makes portraits, paintings, drawings, sometimes photographs of himself – he coats them very carefully with a wax that beekeepers use to attract bees to build in certain places. And then the bees go in and build honeycomb in the likeness of his self. One thing to know about Brigham is he’s terribly allergic."

BRIGHAM DIMICK: "I go into anaphylactic shock after getting stung."

TERRY SUHRE: "Part of this work is a way to create a narrative about the fragility of life."

BRIGHAM DIMICK: "I wanted to figure out a way to collaborate with bees. These are three custom-made observation hives. And these three photographs within the observation hives are above frames of honeycomb that are filled with bees.

As I began to research working with bees and thinking about my own vulnerabilities, I also began to learn about the bees’ own vulnerabilities and their population decline due to colony collapse disorder. And so I wanted this work to kind of talk about those parallel narratives of our mutual vulnerabilities."

MUSIC: Excerpt from Music for Marcel Duchamp (1947) by John Cage. Played by Juan Hidalgo, prepared piano.


Artist Greg Edmondson

TERRY SUHRE: "This is work by Greg Edmondson."

GREG EDMONDSON: "I’m artist in residence at Thomas Jefferson School here in St. Louis."

TERRY SUHRE: "And if you compare Brigham’s work, where he works in a collaborative method with the bees, a rather unorthodox approach to art-making, Greg’s is very traditional. It is pencil on paper."

GREG EDMONDSON: "I started with this simple mark that could be repeated, it could stack on top of itself incrementally, it could mirror or you know reflect itself…"

TERRY SUHRE: "His work has a certain kind of performative aspect to it, this kind of you know making, making, making, it’s very physical."

GREG EDMONDSON: "It’s a motion. Each one of these starts as dark as I can make it, and then fades to the lightest I can."

TERRY SUHRE: "It’s not unlike DNA replicating itself."

GREG EDMONDSON: "When I first started this I had no idea how complex it could become. And so it started as an exercise and it ended up becoming about growth and decay, and transformation, I guess, you know, growth, decay and collapse, you know because you can push these things to the point that they become so fragile that they’re starting to fall apart."

MUSIC: Excerpt from music by John Cage for the short film Works of Calder (1950).


Artist Ronald Leax

RONALD LEAX: "My name is Ron Leax."

TERRY SUHRE: "Ronald is a professor of sculpture at Washington University."

RONALD LEAX: "I’m sort of known for using really unusual materials."

TERRY SUHRE: "We have, let me see here, one, two, three, four, five, one, two, three, four, five – we have 35 petri dishes..."

RONALD LEAX: "...just like you would see in a lab, and the petri dishes contain for the most part cultures which had been growing – let’s put it in the past tense – literally, penicillin molds."

TERRY SUHRE: "We have fuscia pink, dark gray, and at the very end we have a split tray with a green and a lavender color."

RONALD LEAX: "I want somebody to look at these visually, and the colors, and the marks, and be attracted, and then have them perhaps – I mean mold is not the most beautiful – it is beautiful, but it’s – we try to get it out of our houses and off the bread in the refrigerator. And so setting up those tensions where you go in, and jump back, and jump back in, and you think about it one way and then you think about it another way. I want you in that space between the grotesque and the beautiful."

MUSIC: Excerpt from music by John Cage for the short film Works of Calder (1950).