Connecting Art, Science, and Social Outreach

Art’s interdisciplinary nature was on full display during a NYAP trip to the studio of artist and scientist Brandon Ballengée. In his statement of intent, Ballengée describes his work as a “transdisciplinary practice” that connects science, ecological art, and environmental stewardship. His work features biological matter in subject matter and medium.

“From the studio visit with Brandon, I saw that a piece of artwork doesn’t necessarily have to be put in a category,” Warner Ball, NYAP participant, said. “Brandon’s specimens could be considered a sculpture, installation, a painting, etc. It just depends on how you’re looking at it.”

Ballengée's biological artwork. Photo by Candace Weigand.
Ballengée’s biological artwork. Photo by Candace Weigand.

Ballengée’s art breeds from a space where studio is synonymous with lab. Upon entering the space, a visitor is greeted by test tubes filled with deformed specimens from Ballengée’s studies. Closer inspection reveals the brightly colored cadavers of the subjects, an effect created through chemical clearing and staining of the amphibious and aquatic remains. The result is striking; these mesmerizing creatures are often displayed as “gems” in his exhibits.

Ballengée wants his “gems” and the prints made from his specimens to create a connection between the human viewers and biological subjects. In addition to his artworks, Ballengée takes his outreach to the community by organizing public labs and encouraging the public’s participation, creating “citizen scientists.”

Of all the connections between Ballengée’s fields, the most apparent connecting factor is his passion. “[I was struck by] how passionate he was about both his art and his science,” commented Candace Weigand, NYAP participant. “Changing his art would be changing his science and they’re really one in the same.”

To learn more about Brandon Ballengée, visit his website here.

Article by Taylor Zartman, NYAP participant and blogger.


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