Fragile Beauty

Fragile Beauty

“Fragile Beauty: The Art & Science of Sea Butterflies,” was exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History from September 17, 2013 through June, 2016. The exhibition was designed to draw attention to the potential dangers posed by ocean acidification on pteropods, transparent mollusks at the bottom of the marine food web, also known as “sea butterflies.” Collaborating with Dr. Gareth Lawson, biological oceanographer and Director of the Lawson Lab at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, I carved highly abstract larger-than-life sculptures to evoke the vulnerability of these beautiful microorganisms, while Lawson explained the science that inspired my work. The Smithsonian agreed to mount the exhibition after a successful preview at Blue Mountain Gallery in New York, May 22 – June 16, 2012, where it was called “The PTEROPOD PROJECT: charismatic microfauna.”

These three Limacima Retroversa aluminum castings, the largest which is 23″ high x 33″ long x 13″ deep, are compared with a greatly enlarged photo taken through an electron microscope of the actual marine animal, which is no larger than a grain of sand.

CLICK HERE to read the Artrscribe article by historian Stephanie Grilli, PhD, who positions the sculpture in context of 19th and 20th Century scientific discovery and artistic exploration.
CLICK HERE to read the Smithsonian Magazine’s article “The Gorgeous Shapes of Sea Butterflies.”