The art/science show, Perceptions of Promise, at Alberta’s Glenbow Museum in Calgary features stem cell research, ethics, and art. It’s the outcome of a workshop that was held May 2010 in Alberta. Here’s an image from the show,
An article by Jef Akst, Controversy on display; A Canadian art exhibit takes a different look at the ongoing debate surrounding human stem cell research, in The Scientist provides an interview with one of the organizers of the show, Timothy Caulfield, a bioethicist at the Health Law Institute of the University of Alberta,
Over the last couple of years, Caulfield [Timothy] has worked with his brother Sean, a professor of art design also at the University of Alberta, to brainstorm ways to combine their interests in art, science, and society. The brothers’ first brainchild, a 2009 art show in Alberta called Imagining Science, explored legal and ethical issues surrounding biotechnological advances, such as cloning and genetic testing
While they were happy with the exhibition’s success, they felt there were plenty more issues left to cover. “Many of the people involved thought this conversation isn’t over,” Sean says. “It’s kind of just beginning.” So they decided to do it again, this time focusing on the contentious issues surrounding stem cell research.
Following the tradition of their first exhibition, they organized a workshop that brought together scientists, social commentators, and artists to present their work and represent diverse perspectives on stem cell research.
Here’s an excerpt from a posting by one of the participants, Matthew Nisbet, an associate professor in the School of Communication at American University. (At the time of writing, his blog was called Framing Science, Nisbet has since changed his blogging focus and has moved and renamed his blog, Age of Engagement; all the archival posts for Framing Science are included.) From Nisbet’s archived May 5, 2010 posting on Age of Engagement,
Last week I traveled to the Canadian Rockies to participate in a unique workshop organized by the University at Alberta that focused on the shared perspectives and collaborations among artists, scientists, ethicists, and social scientists. The workshop was the second in a series organized by brothers Sean Caulfield and Timothy Caulfield, professors of Art and Law respectively at the University of Alberta.
In 2009, the first workshop resulted in the “Imagining Science” exhibit at the Art Gallery of Alberta and a book by the same title. The critically acclaimed initiative highlighted the emerging genre of “bio art,” which Tim Caulfield in his contribution to the award-winning book describes as “a field of artistic inquiry that both utilizes the techniques of biotechnology and serves as a medium of reflection on the societal implications of the research.”
Here’s an example of a collaboration from the 2010 workshop which has resulted in the Perceptions of Promise show (from the article by Jef Akst),
Paul Cassar, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto who works with mouse embryonic stem cells, took an even more hands-on approach to his collaboration with artist Daniela Schlüter — he actually drew some scientific schematics from which Schlüter created her mixed media drawings.
“By no means am I a good drawer,” Cassar says. “Even my sketches could have been done better by a three year old,” he jokes. But when Schlüter overlaid her own drawings, she was able to “create this story to contrast some of these tensions [of] where we are now with this stem cell debate,” he says. “I think is a really neat example of how science can be inspiring to other creative minds.”
There’s also video of the show featuring the images,