Name: Nicole Clouston
Which came first in your life, the science or the art?
I came into art/science work from my practice as an artist. When I discovered how essential microbial life is to our existence I knew I had to work with it and that brought me to the field of bio art.
Which sciences relate to your art practice?
Microbiology has the most direct link to my current body of work because I am collaborating with microbes. I am also influenced by anthropology, chemistry, and biology more broadly.
What materials do you use to create your artworks?
My artwork involves sampling mud and placing it, along with nutrients that encourage microbial growth, in clear acrylic prisms. When exposed to light, the microbes already present begin to flourish, becoming visible in the form of vibrant marbling.
Artwork/Exhibition you are most proud of:
My piece Lake Ontario Portrait is comprised of fifteen tall prisms filled with mud from fifteen locations around the Canadian and American sides of the Lake Ontario, each with its own unique microbial community.
Which scientists and/or artists inspire and/or have influenced you?
Too many to list them all, but a few would be Anna Dumitriu, Jennifer Willet, and Elaine Whittaker. The team I worked with at the Coalesce bio art lab in Buffalo, Paul Vanouse, Solon Morse, and Lou Saussabre have all been incredibly influential.
Is there anything else you want to tell us?
Microbes are often perceived as exclusively dangerous when in reality they are amazing and essential parts of our bodies and worlds. It is possible that recognizing the enmeshed nature of our bodies can push us to foster a stronger, more sustainable, and empathetic relationship with each other and our ecosystem as a whole.
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