The New Gallery highlights work of two Albertan artists in thought-provoking show

Clinical terms such as “bonding,” “molecule” and “reactive properties” imply imagery of laboratories and science.

 What is not obvious from such scientific terminology is that in the case of an upcoming art exhibit, the terms refer to artists mixing paints, thinners and using potentially caustic chemicals to create art.

It is the intention of the upcoming art exhibit entitled “Separation Point” to investigate this blurred line of science and art. The exhibit features work by Sean Caulfield and Royden Mills.

Artist Sean Caulfield spoke of finding art in unexpected places.

“I used to see old scientific diagrams and not understand what was being implied, yet there was always something inherent about their aesthetic.

“I hope to make images that encounter the blur of reason in science, and this is where art starts.”

It is not uncommon to find that science addresses issues that polarize, and art can comprehend those complex emotional qualities that defy the fact-based nature of science in the first place, Caulfield said.

Art and Science Connected

Marjan Eggermont, a Calgary artist who also teaches in the engineering department of the University of Calgary, consistently traverses the line of art and science.

“I think that science is pretty well covered in Alberta, and I definitely think we need more art to help explore how this science affects us.”

She added that it can be effective to use the emotion of art even when referring to science. This may go against the principles of science but emotions are inherently human, Eggermont said.

And artist Royden Mills spoke of using people as a connection between science and art.

“Science can be cold. Art can be extremely emotional. I want the work to allow the viewer to bridge the gap between the two.”

It was through these ideas of the body being a conduit for science and art from which Caulfield and Mills developed a working relationship, Mills said.

“We started out as individual artists, and then we noticed the metaphorical similarity that our work had with one another.”

“It’s amazing to step back and see this relationship work in constant development, because neither takes priority over the other. Neither does one inform the other,” he said.

Using Visuals

Robin Owen, a biology professor at Mount Royal University, said visual can inform not just art but science as well.

“Visuals are truly important — especially in biology — because we do deal with things that are real,” he explained. “As a biologist you must initiate your processing from a visual starting point, and have a personal representation.

“I suppose this is why you have such compelling drawing and diagrams from biologists, and I understand I sometimes inadvertently convey this to my students — maybe for the better.”

These drawings and diagrams can be seen from the advent of scientific history to the modern day. Basic examples include Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, or Darwin’s Finches & Natural Selection.

“There is such faith in science, and as technology advances, it becomes less and less understandable. If we cannot understand how technology advances, we then tend to fall back to emotion,” Mills said.

Caulfield added that as science progresses, its relation to art becomes less understandable. The line separating the two becomes blurred and obscured.

“Maybe art can reconcile the two,” he said.

The exhibit is available for viewing after Nov. 18. A public reception for “Separation Point,” as a part of Calgary’s First Thursday event, takes place Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. in the Main Space gallery at Art Central.

For more information visit The New Gallery website.

kdancy@cjournal.ca