Saturday, November 22, 2014

SARAS 2014 Workshop on Art Science Collaborations



Fred Swanson (H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest) is presenting at a workshop about art/science confluence, hosted by the South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability (SARAS). Fred will be discussing the emergence of arts/humanities at sites of long-term ecological research in the US.

The meeting is to be held in Uruguay this December. Here is an outline of the agenda, and a description of the event framework.
"The three day workshop for 30-­40 attendees will focus on the opportunities and challenges that emerge when we try to bring together disciplines that have been historically divided. It will be followed by a one day public conference at which we will share our findings with a public of several hundred regional stakeholders."
From Fred:
"Hard to tell what some of the presentations will be about, but I just watched some videos of the Bjordem-Scheffer art-science collaboration and they are interesting - easy to google up. Scheffer was just featured in a couple-page story in Science about this work on ecological tipping points."
I'll update this post with more information after the meeting.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Survey results

The results of the recent survey of FSML art/humanities programs are in. You can view the complete results online here, or download

You might also see Philippe Cohen's list of art programs at FSMLs for the 2012 OBFS Annual Meeting.

Here are the comments from the current survey:


A few scientists work with artists in an episodic/opportunity-based way to encourage science-inspired art, such as river acoustics providing a "musical score" for dance. Occasional retreats by arts/humanities programs provide a forum for artistic composition.
11/13/2014 3:19 PM View respondent's answers
We offer an 8-week Environmental Writing and Great Lakes Literature course (300 level, 5 UM semester credits) and a non-credit , 5-day Art in Nature course (drawing and painting) for adults.
11/12/2014 11:49 AM View respondent's answers
Currently we: 1. Recruit art and writing classes to come to the Preserve 2. Develop service learning projects with classes to take on projects we need done 3. Collaborate and seek funding for cross-disciplinary projects (arts and sciences). We are interested in developing an art and science residency program. This will likely require new overnight facilities which we currently lack at all of our Preserves. In designing our new facilities, we are including working space for artists. One other comment -- I think FSMLs need to expand to work with all disciplines. For example, why leave out Business and Economics? Seems like we should work with those students as well.
11/11/2014 5:34 PM View respondent's answers
I love the idea of a working group centered on art.
11/11/2014 3:17 PM View respondent's answers
credit classes En Plein Air Ecopoetics (which explores the environmental and ecology through poetry). We feature nature poets frequently. Liz Bradfield is a whale scientists/naturalist poet and the bomb ( We have our own Nantucket Field Station Press, we sponsor writing workshops for adults and kids and integrated art, music and poetry exhibitions. Writing and poetry and art and completely integrated into our K-12 program (invasive crabs and HP Lovecraft art comics stories and poetry this past summer) and Ecopoetics, photography and En Plein art are taught at the collegiate level. We host weekly writing workshops and joint science and photography shows. Recently I did a oceanography lecture skewering Ernest Hemingway during a Literary Roast in Boston at the Oberon Theater surrounded by burlesque performers drag queens and poets.I have a list of 3-4 illustrators that offer science illustration. About 20 painters teach outdoor painting classes here and in the summer it is common for painters to be spread around. I'll put more on the blog about this,
11/7/2014 2:49 PM View respondent's answers
The Estate offers onsite studio space to artists through a residency program; in exchange, artists offer their time and talent to engage the public. Recently, we expanded the residency to include a focus on EcoArt (the intersection between science, advocacy/ecological intervention, and art practices). The Artist in Residency program currently welcomes professional Visual, Performing, and Literary Artists who are self-motivated and focused. The primary basis for selection of our artists is the strength and quality of the applicant’s work as it relates the Charles Deerings' environmental and cultural vision as well as a clear objective for the time of their residency. Both Artist in Residence Studio Residencies and Non-Studio Project Residencies are available and are competitively selected through a jury process using leading professionals from our family of galleries, collaborative arts and cultural organizations. The Residency acts as wonderful incubator for creative ideas, unique experiences, and collaborative opportunities that engage the public in the natural and built features of the site.
11/6/2014 10:35 AM View respondent's answers
We do not have an arts program but are very interested in creating one. What we do have is an interpretive class for undergraduates that is dual listed in the fine arts department and the Wildlife ecology and conservation department. It is co-taught by faculty in both programs.
11/3/2014 8:06 AM View respondent's answers
Because we do have the public in fairly often, the artists that are on display have their works for sale. We get a commission off the sales of their art work. We rotate artists every three months. We also have larger public events through out the year where we bring in artists for shorter periods of time. We tend to bring in musicians during monthly brunch events.
11/3/2014 6:17 AM View respondent's answers
We also cooperate with other sites to promote arts/humanities engagements with sites of long-term inquiry, including managing (at a low level) the Ecological Reflections webpage to share information - About 20 sites are involved - mostly LTERs and some of these are also OBFS members and/or US Forest Service Experimental Forests. there seems to be a strong groundswell of these engagements and it would be good to share information and support one another.
11/2/2014 10:06 PM View respondent's answers
Sounds like there are a number of folks on staff game to assemble a blog post.
11/1/2014 5:36 PM View respondent's answers
would be great to have a network of field station art programs to learn what stations are doing and perhaps build into some interesting collective programs.
11/1/2014 8:48 AM View respondent's answers
We do collaborate with artists on occasion, but don't have a formal program. Some of our researchers are working on an art project to promote awareness and understanding of the ecology of the horseshoe crab which is a signature species of the Delaware Bay where we are located
10/31/2014 7:00 PM View respondent's answers
With the FAB! program, we bring art and biology undergraduate and graduate students together at the Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory on Seahorse Key for three days and have them engage in several integrative activities. The student activities are centered around important conservation issues such as climate change and global warming. The students then display the products of the activities at a public open house at the SKML. Our program is highly integrative and involves faculty from over three departments including Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Fine Arts, and Humanities.
10/31/2014 3:53 PM View respondent's answers
we also are creating a partnership with a couple of museums to set up research/course outing to the lab for students and development. this work is centered around Childe Hassam- a famous artist from the 1800's who painted on our island. we are working with a group of art historians to put together a nationally touring exhibit of Hassam's work. this work blends a lot of geology and art history to create interpretive materials for this public tour.
10/31/2014 1:27 PM View respondent's answers
The Art @ CPBS program is just a year old. We have long term plans and it is expected to grow over the next 5 years.
10/31/2014 10:53 AM View respondent's answers
Art is both an excellent outreach tool, and also a fascinating line of inquiry into ecosystems (just like science). I wish we had the funding and staff capacity to do more. There is certainly a tremendous amount of interest from regional artists in getting involved in what we do. I also help organize art-science work for the LTER Network. That collective (see is doing a lot of cool work.
10/31/2014 9:49 AM View respondent's answers
In addition to science-based conservation, education and research (especially in ecology. biology, geology, and hydrology) at the WKU GRP, we have a strong collaboration with the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology at WKU. There is a 200-year-old house at the site that is an important touchstone with the community, and which Folk Studies people are working hard to restore - a labor of many years and many years to come. Anthropological work is also a significant ongoing partnership; documentation of cultural history is important to us. We do not have a formal arts program, but we include performance of regional music (bluegrass and old-time) at many events, expect to host a musicians' retreat soon, have hosted retreats of women artists (including photographers), and will be hosting a retreat for an international group of religion academics focused on human relationships with the environment. We have done a small amount of temporary environmental art (sensu Andy Goldsworthy) and would like to do more, AND we make a point of providing students and visiting children with notebooks and pencils for drawing, and encourage the use of our dissecting scopes for simple informal close observation of natural objects. Those explorations are a hybrid of art and science: we believe that heightened attention to the landscape, the soundscape, and the microscape feeds observation skills and processes that are at the root of both science and art.
10/31/2014 9:33 AM View respondent's answers
Many of our English and ART faculty will bring their various classes out to the Station for a day-experience in exploring nature, painting landscapes or touring the facilities. There is a growing interest in developing STEAM and STREAM K-12 outreach programs to complement our existing STEM programs.
10/31/2014 8:47 AM View respondent's answers
It may be interesting to partner with the Alliance of Artists Communities (recently started a working group on "Ecological Residencies" at artist communities. Contact Molly Rideout (Director of Grin City Collective, a local artist-in-residency program)
10/31/2014 8:05 AM View respondent's answers
Welcome engagement with OBFS effort or joining a FSML group of other stations that have art programs. For example, would be fun to set up a network where artists can plug in and visit different stations each summer, or a central web resource where we can all display our "art at field station." We have great interest by artsists, but little structure for follow up or continued engagement. - Eric Nagy Mountain Lake Biological Station
10/30/2014 8:08 AM View respondent's answers
we are a new research station (one year of operation) and are still developing our programs. We are supporting faculty visits (including faculty in arts, humanities and social sciences) as they develop projects that could take place at the station. In addition to our scientific research projects, to date we have hosted art, scientific illustration and writing courses in addition to students from a range of other disciplines who are engaging in service learning activities.
10/29/2014 10:42 PM View respondent's answers
Some graduate students and some scientists at our institution want to participate in art/science projects with professional artists and believe the projects help public audiences understand scientific principles.
10/29/2014 12:28 PM View respondent's answers
Description of program already on the blog.
10/21/2014 3:52 PM View respondent's answers

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Catalog of FSMLs

This fusion table is a remarkable effort to catalog all the field stations and marine labs in the world as part of the NAS report. It's an excellent resource for finding potential partners and identifying opportunities.

If you see any missing stations, please mention them in the comments (or e-mail me) and I'll update the post.


Missing stations...

From Fred Swanson:

Data Carpentry

Data Carpentry is a new project funded by NSF BIO Centers and DataOne. It is designed to teach researchers basic concepts, skills and tools for working more effectively with data.

Workshops are designed for learners with little to no prior knowledge of programming, shell scripting, or command line tools.

iDigBio recently hosted a Data Carpentry workshop, and their website has good documentation.

It occurs to me that this workshop offers an interesting opportunity to train both scientists and artists, while providing the possibility of interaction.

Looking at the rapidly expanding pool of data as a resource, or a medium, offers interesting potential art/science collisions. For example, Artist-Scientists Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg lead Google's "Big Picture" visualization research group in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They created a compelling art project from wind data that you have probably seen, as well as many internet data visualizations , including Many Eyes, an on-line data visualization tool, Wikipedia, chat history and e-mail visualizations.

More thoughts about data visualization here.

New brochure for NAS Report

This is a new brochure from OBFS and NAML, highlighting the recent National Academy of Sciences report on "Enhancing the Value and Sustainability of Field Stations in the 21st Century".

Designed to present the salient points quickly and clearly to elected officials, campus administrators, grantors, and anyone else who has influence on field station and marine lab funding, this piece can also serve as an argument for art at FSMLs. In order to accomplish the recommendations of the report, FSMLs will need to engage a broader audience than in the past, linking the chain from data > knowledge > empathy > policy > action.

Art can help us do that.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Artist Stephanie Lie at Kendall-Frost

Stephanie Lie was awarded a UCIRA Artist Residency at UC San Diego's Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve in summer of 2014. Isabelle Kay provided these photos from the project.

Read more about the artwork here.

Monday, November 3, 2014


CERN, the multi-national super-collider that straddles the Swiss-French border near Geneva, is a pioneer of institutional art-science collaborations.

Beginning in 2009, they took a typically Swiss engineering approach to structuring their new effort, and funded a 4-month feasibility study.

The result is a program that is better organized and documented than most. To identify promising proposals, CERN has partnered with leading art-world luminaries, including Beatrix Ruf, director of Swiss art exhibition centre Kunsthalle Zurich, and Serge Dorny, director general of the Lyon Opera House in France.

Collide@CERN is driven by a four strategy cultural policy for engaging with the arts:
  1. To create expert knowledge in the setting up the honorary Cultural Advisory Board for engaging with the Arts (CABA) that will include arts professionals at the highest level.
  2. To create clear entry points for artists to visit CERN...The most obvious and clear entry point for artists will be the Collide@CERN Arts Residency Programme.
  3. To instigate Collide@CERN, the arts residency scheme, to encourage dialogue and exchange between arts and science...
  4. To provide...professional cultural expertise and advice to already existing homegrown arts activities at CERN – CinéGlobe, for example – to enable them to fulfill their cultural potential.
More information about CERN's art program:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Science and creativity

From Nancy Lowe:

"I'm attaching an inspiring article by Robert and Michelle Root-Bernstein, who have been studying art-science creativity for a couple of decades (he is MacArthur Fellow from way back). The article points out that those scientists who do really innovative, paradigm-shifting work, the Nobel winners, etc., have one thing in common. They make art!" 
" mentioned that the group is searching for the purpose of art at field stations - here's an interesting new argument - that it augments creativity in general and can give scientists a fresh view of their own work. The second article I'm sending is a great summary of trends in science communication, including using the arts, put together by a bunch of movers and shakers from many arenas - online science communication, science festivals, Cafe Scientifique, art-science, and others."
Be sure to also check out Nancy's art-science blog, symbASA.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mathematical Impressionist art.

Recent analysis shows that in paintings produced during psychotic episodes, Vincent Van Gogh was able to capture mathematically correct depictions of turbulence, one of the most difficult natural phenomena to describe scientifically.

This representation predates scientific recognition of the phenomenon. More here.