Saturday, January 3, 2015

Science plus Art = Awesome!

Autophagy three 8 x 10 acrylic on canvas

Autophagy (from the Greek auto-, "self" and phagein, "to eat") is an intracellular degradation system that delivers cytoplasmic constituents to the lysosome. Despite its simplicity, recent progress has demonstrated that autophagy plays a wide variety of physiological and pathophysiological roles, which are sometimes complex.
I love Science! However... it can be hard to mentally consume the intricate things in play with every action and resulting reaction that happens during each moment all over this busy world in which we live in. The above definition was what I had to work with when I started a series of paintings last year for a professor at the University of Michigan who is an extremely smart man in all things microbiology, but especially autophagy. Simply stated, with this illustration job I had to visually explain and paint what happens when a part of a cell senses and recognizes a negative issue within another part within the cell, it will then quarantine and eventually destroy the infected part, so the larger cell can remain alive. Did I mention that this all happens one million times smaller than a head of a pin? Oh yeah, and it's difficult to "really see" whats happening way down there, so wrap that all up in some paintings sir.......As I stated earlier, I love science, so I asked for as much reference as I could get my hands on and I received a ton of thick journals with very small print and many pages, but NO PHOTOS, just a few basic line drawings. This got my wheels turning a bit, but luckily my patron was not only a global speaker on all things autophagy, he also loves my robot paintings.
Long story short, I designed robots to better explain the three phases. 1. Signal- the cell component recognizes an issue 2. Sequester- the defective cell is surrounded 3. Consume- the component is destroyed. The bottom illustration is a digital painting for the cover of Autophagy, a U of M science journal that talks all things autophagy, written by my robot loving maize and blue science friend!

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