Right Turn: Science is art and art inspires science

Author: Stacey Johnson, 07/28/17

Iris by Sabiha Hacibekiroglu, 2016 People’s Choice and Grand Prize winner, Cells I See

“Anyone who views something under a microscope or through a telescope will tell you that science is art, and that art is the perfect way to convey science.” (Amanda Kwieraga)

If you wander through the office where I work, you will come to the same conclusion. The submissions we have received from several years of Cells I See competitions have resulted in a substantial collection of images that we recently had framed. Scientists who submit their work know it might end up on the cover of an annual report or a conference program book, and the Cells I See images are also featured on Signals in the Photo of the Month section (see the bottom right side of this page).

On a grander scale, cells have also been the subject of art gallery exhibits and performance art, and many organizations have contests to feature beautiful cell images.

So viewing cells as art is not a new concept and the appeal isn’t exclusive to cells either. Synthetic biologist Tal Danino creates beautiful bacteria to “use the visual arts to help communicate science…and that’s because art really transcends the boundaries of language and also of knowledge.”

Another researcher, Pedro Resende, saw mobiles created by sculptor Alexander Calder and they reminded him of stem cell niches, something he spends a lot of time studying. As he states, “suddenly, understanding and explaining how these anatomic entities behave became simpler.” You can see Alexander Calder’s mobiles in the video below, but I recommend you also read Dr. Resende’s interesting article on Stem cell niches and mobiles: Where biology and art meet.

Art inspires, teaches, provokes, communicates and engages our senses. Just like science.


Cells I See is now accepting submissions for its 2017 contest until September 8, 2017. Rules, prize details (cash!), submission guidelines and the entry form can be found here.

Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at)ccrm.ca. We encourage you to be creative and use the right (!) side of your brain. We dare you to make us laugh! Right Turn features cartoons, photos, videos and other content to amuse, educate and encourage discussion.

As always, we welcome your feedback in the comment section.



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Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

For almost 20 years, Stacey has been providing strategic communications counsel to government, corporate, technology and health organizations. Prior to that, Stacey was at the CTV Television Network, first as a researcher, then as a story producer for “Goldhawk Fights Back,” a special ombudsman segment that aired weekly on the National News and Canada AM. Before joining CCRM as the Director, Communications and Marketing, Stacey was the Director of Communications for the Canadian Arthritis Network. Stacey is editor of Signals. You can follow Stacey on Twitter @msstaceyerin.
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