Geneticist brings art exhibit about ethical questions of science
By Colleen Newvine / News and Information Services
|Using plexiglass and neon, Hunter O'Reilly
and Electric Eye Neon constructed "Ebola is Beautiful"
(above). O'Reilly spans a life in "Let My Family Live!
Portrait of Randolfe Wicker, the First Human Cloning Activist"
(below). O'Reilly's exhibit, "Radioactive Biohazard: Benefits
of Biotechnology," comes to U-M through Sept. 26.
Digital art using microscopic images of deadly diseases and oil
paintings about human cloningthis is what happens when a geneticist
combines her scientific background with her artistic talents.
Hunter OReilly, who has a doctorate in genetics, has shown
her artistic reinterpretations of science internationally. She explores
sensitive and topical themes of biotechnology and genetics with
her latest exhibit, Radioactive Biohazard: Benefits of Biotechnology,
which comes to U-M through Sept. 26. Her visit will include a gallery
tour and reception Sept. 20 and a genetics seminar Sept. 23.
Too many people have irrational fears of biotechnology,
OReilly says. Without scientists working to share their
perspectives, it is too easy for Albert Einstein to be mistaken
for Dr. Frankenstein.
Elizabeth Petty, a well-known human geneticist at U-M, first proposed
bringing OReillys work to campus as a way of reaching
out to diverse audiences and stimulating discussions about scientific
issues that influence our lives. Art is accessible in a way that
academic lectures might not be, she says.
Theres a lot of information and oftentimes, misinformation,
as well as a lot of hope and hype about what science can and will
do for us. Innovative ways in which we can encourage thought-provoking
conversations about frontiers in science are generally good,
says Petty, an associate professor of genetics who majored in art
history as an undergraduate.
OReillys art has appeared in more than 20 scientific
publications, including the covers of Nature Reviews Genetics and
Trends in Ecology and Evolution. As a lecturer at the University
of Wisconsin-Parkside, she created a course called Biology Through
Art, where students create art in a biology laboratory.
As part of Radioactive Biohazard, OReilly collaborated with
art team Electric Eye Neon to create sculptures with animal bones
and neon and to highlight images of deadly viruses with neon.
The exhibit will appear at the Warren Robbins Gallery at the U-M
School of Art and Design, 2000 Bonisteel Blvd. on U-Ms North
Campus, (734) 936-2082. Hours are
9 a.m.5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The gallery talk is scheduled
for 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Warren Robbins Gallery. A map of North
Campus is available at www.umich.edu/~newsinfo/umnc.html'.
The genetics seminar is planned for 4 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Department
of Human Genetics, 5915 Buhl Building on U-Ms Medical Campus.
A reception will precede the talk at 3:45 p.m. in room 4933, the
Human Genetics lounge. A map is at: www.umich.edu/~newsinfo/ccamp.html
and the Buhl Building is at the rear of the Medical Science II building.
All events are free and open to the public.
OReillys visit is presented by the Life Sciences Values
and Society Program, which aims to foster public debate about the
ethical questions raised by developments in the life sciences and
to better understand how those discoveries affect thinking and activities
in all spheres of human life.
Cosponsors are: the Department of Human Genetics; Gifts of Art,
U-M Health System; Health Science Scholars Program; the Life Sciences
Institute; Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Artist Series at the School
of Art and Design; Program in Culture, Health and Medicine; Public
Health Genetics Program; the Science, Technology and Society Program;
Students Exploring the Life Sciences and Society; the Undergraduate
Research Opportunity Program; and the Women in Science and Engineering
Visit OReillys Web site, www.hunteroreilly.com,
to see her artwork, read her biography and learn more about how
she combines science and art. Information about the upcoming show
is at http://www.radioactivebiohazard.com.
For more information about the exhibit and events at U-M, contact
Aaron Goldenberg at (734) 936-2575, firstname.lastname@example.org.