Friday, April 29, 2011

Epigenetics Eh!

(click on the image for larger version)


Some background Info
London Ontario will host the Canadian Conference on Epigenetics (called Epigenetics, Eh!) next week May 4-7.  In collaboration, the organizers of the Conference and the London Arts Council offered 10 artists the opportunity to attend a presentation about Epigenetics from some local scientists who are specialists in this area. The artists were then commissioned to create a piece based on the presentation and understanding of the practice.

My Piece
I was one of the lucky artists asked to participate. Epigenetics is a rapidly growing field of science defined as:  "Any function change in the genome that does not involve an alteration of the DNA sequence."

In layman's terms one can view this as nature vs. nurture, where nature is a person's DNA, and nurture represents all sorts of external factors that can alter a person's physiology without changing their DNA.

What captured my imagination from the presentation on Epigenetics to the artists was the subject of Epigenetics and the environment. Specifically that chemicals in our environment can change the “readout” of our genes, and that multiple levels of these compounds (even if found at low “safe” levels) have an additive quality that combined can have a detrimental impact on a person’s health and well-being (not surprising at all, but nice to know it's confirmed at this epigenetics level).

For my piece, I wanted to focus at man-made chemicals found in the environment. I also didn’t think one piece would have the impact I was looking for, so I created a diptych (two pieces that work together as one) that depicts chemicals released into air, and chemicals released to the soil.

I wanted to show the beauty of our natural landscape, and through the use of text make the “invisible” chemical elements (not seen to the naked eye) visible. The listing of chemicals was taken from a report on environmental toxicology.

EpigenArt the Exhibition

The EpigenART Exhibition will display the work of all the artists involved for the duration of the conference at the London Convention Centre. We've all been invited to the banquet dinner (which I unfortunately can't attend as I'll be at TCAF), and also have been invited to some cocktail mixers where we'll get to talk about our works with the attending scientists.

Post-conference,the works will be exhibited by the London Arts Council Office and City of London Mayor's Office.

I want to thank the committee of the Epigenetics Conference as well as the London Arts Council for putting this all together. Rarely have I been treated so respectfully as an artist - we were really treated as peers in this conference and as participants who could help shed led on this emerging science. It's always been a great learning experience and collaboration!

For more info, see:

Monday, April 04, 2011

London Studio Tour - April 15 - 17

The London Studio Tour is coming up and I've been hard at work preparing for it. The tour is a unique London event - during the weekend of April 15- 17, twenty-four local artists will open up their studios to the public. I've attended the event a number of times and it's a lot of fun. In 2009 I exhibited for the first time and had over 500 people through the studio!

The best part - it's free and everyone is welcome!  For my part, I will have original artwork for sale and on display including some comic pages. I'll also have all my comics and original t-shirts for sale as well.

For the kids, I will have some free comics to give away! Here's the information:

London Studio Tour
Friday, April 15th : 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Saturday, April 16th: 10:000 AM - 5:00 PM 
Sunday, April 17th: 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM 

Tree Series
Below is a couple of new pieces I've done for the show. They are the first in a new series I'm working on focusing on trees in London. Since we are the Forest City and London averages 12 trees/per person, I wanted to do a full exploration of what many take for granted in the city. The story is not all good. Many of our trees are not in good health and are dead or dying. Many trees that are healthy are non-native to the area and not particularly great for the environment.

ReForest London kindly supplied me with a lot of information and stats, and these will be making their way into the artwork. I'll be working on this series from now until October, and will post them as they are finished.
Bur Oak at 200 Collip Circle
As a place to begin with the series, I thought what better place to start than the "People's Choice" winner in last year's Amazing Tree Quest contest held by Reforest London, where Londoners identify their favourite trees. So I went out to 200 Collip Circle, near Windemere Manor to take some photos of the Giant Bur Oak there.

As I was wandering around, I wondered if I would recognize the tree from the photos. No danger there. Once you find the right spot to view it - it's stunning. Unfortunately it seems to have gotten damaged slightly with these recent heavy snows, but I know it will survive. The tree has a real mythical quality to it. It seems like it could spring to life and start moving like the trees in the Lord of the Rings.
Another View of Bur Oak Tree