In nature, form follows function… beauty and humor follow form. Some would argue that art is simply a comment (or multiple comments) on the form and function found in the natural world. And while I’m not qualified to make any definitive arguments on the nature of art, two projects that have that have recently come to my attention demonstrate pretty clearly how the artistic eye (and in the first case, also the scientific eye) uses close observation to create beautiful and even humorous images.
The form in nature that follows the specific function of individual proteins, inspires Maja Klevanski, a.k.a. May K, to create sparse black and white drawings that often humorously reflect the very function of the proteins she studies as a doctoral candidate at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität in Germany. In the “Drunk Girl” drawing below, Klevanski illustrates the job of the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzyme.
This time the drawing doesn’t have exactly the same look as the protein, but it is involved in the very same activity, in breaking down alcohol.
[Roman] asked me to draw an ethanol molecule. But as I can draw only proteins, I suggested him that I could draw the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), an enzyme which breaks down ethanol in our liver. How much alcohol we can stand, directly depends on the amount of ADH in our body. Thus, to all proud hard drinkers: It’s not you coping with all these alcohol amounts… always remember that there are these sweet little ADH girls in your body without whose help you would be lost.
Bryan Nash Gill’s relief prints of tree cross sections draw art from the very simplest and most common natural objects. Gill sees the beauty, as many of us have, in the concentric growth rings of trees. He has developed a process for transfer the life and history represented in the rings to a new media, creating in the truest sense wood cut prints, with a beauty attributable to, but separate from the natural object from which the pattern is derived.
Gill and Klevanski share the artist/scientist’s penchant for close observation, along with the the creative vision to produce something new and original that speaks directly to their works’ origins in the natural world.