Bioluminescent portraits with Hunter Cole and Peter N. Gray
Artist Statement: Bioluminescent portraits
In 2003 I began to incorporate the use of photography with my love of drawing to capture images created with bioluminescent bacteria – bacteria which produces its own light. My art reflects the technological and artistic challenges presented through working with living organisms.
More recently, I have expanded the application and use of bioluminescent light to more complex works including figurative compositions (portraits; nudes; installations). Some of my newer work depicts my keen interest in surreal imagery and symbolism.
Science serves as a vehicle for expressing my creativity and artistry. Art serves as a motivation for me to interpret our living world. My art continues to fuel my desire to explore, research, investigate, and discover new and different ways of expression.
- Hunter Cole, artist & scientist
Portraits of Peter N. Gray
Peter: Why did you include me in your project?
Hunter: When I photographed you, it was my first experience photographing people by the light of bioluminescent bacteria. I started by asking interesting friends of mine to be photographed - it seemed perfect to photograph you, an artist and scientist, with expertise in microbiology by the glow of bioluminescent bacteria.
Peter: Was the reflection of the culture dishes in my eyeglasses an aforethought or a coincidental addition to the photo?
Hunter: You were one of the first people I photographed for this series. - the reflection of the culture dishes in your glasses was a happy accident. I have had many happy accidents working with bioluminescent bacteria, learned from them, and then incorporated in future photographs on purpose.
Peter: At what point in the process did you decide to include representation of my sculptures in your work?
Hunter: I was photographing several people that day - I drew insects on culture dishes used with the photograph of Bob Hamilton, an entomologist. I wrote the word bipolar on a culture dish and photographed a bipolar friend holding that culture dish. I wanted to draw something related to you and your work as an artist on culture dishes that could be included in the photograph as well, so I chose a few of your sculptures.
About Peter N. Gray
At my Metal-i-Genics Studio in Chicago, I capture the aesthetics of genetics, microbiology, and physics in bronze and steel sculptures. My goal is to create something that has both an aesthetic value as a sculpture and then also leads to further questioning by the viewer. In science, you should always keep that in mind that in what you're observing there is a true inherent beauty. I often felt provoked by the artistic qualities of the images I encountered. Artists, scientists, and technologists look at structure and pattern in the universe, whether visible or invisible to the naked eye. My exhibitions explore how some of today's scientific fields of systems science, chaos, fractals, genetics, molecular science, plus nature itself, are used to create two – and three dimensional art of provocative and sumptuous pattern.
About Hunter Cole
Chicago-based artist and scientist Hunter Cole produces work that is inspired by science, but lives as art. Cole, who holds a PhD in genetics, reinterprets science through art. Internationally recognized, Cole’s art includes paintings, photography, digital art, and living art using bioluminescent bacteria. Her art has been exhibited in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, and the Czech Republic. Cole is a member of the faculty of Loyola University Chicago.
In addition to her PhD, Hunter Cole holds a Master's degree in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of California-Berkeley. During her time teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Cole created a course entitled Biology Through Art. The course provided opportunities for students to create art while working in a biology laboratory. Cole also successfully implemented the Biology Through Art curriculum at Loyola University Chicago.