Art Under the Microscope
Inspired by the micro, by the details that provide a foundation for Cayman, literally: sand.
Opening February 6, 2015, Luminescent Forms: Art Under the Microscope features a series photographs of tiny single-celled organisms called foraminifera, which have been magnified beautifully by German mechanical engineer Roland Verreet, and will be juxtaposed alongside glass sculptures by Cayman artist Davin Ebanks.
Drawing inspiration from 19th century naturalists, Verreet gathers samples of the forams—shell-forming organisms often smaller than 1mm—and captures their intricate structures under a microscope, transforming them into stunning images. He studies the natural history of these creatures and the mathematical laws behind their geometry, all of which fits, literally, into a grain of sand.
In fact, it turns out that up to 40% of the sand on a typical Cayman beach is composed—not of eroded coral and conch shells—but rather the shells of tiny, fully-formed creatures. Seen under the microscope, the glowing forms literally appear as though sculpted in glass, which led Natalie Urquhart (the National Gallery’s Director) to take the exhibition one step further by inviting sculptor Davin Ebanks to reimagine these forms in blown and cast glass.
The artist had this to say: “I had been aware of magnified images of sand before Natalie introduced me to Roland’s work, and had in fact already been considering how some of the structural pattern could make their way into my work. Most of the images I had seen were of fragments of marine sand and I’d become fascinated with the way their internal structures hinted at larger system, so that the logic of the whole was contained in the tiniest part. That’s what my work has been about for some time: samples or sections that hint at a larger system—geographical quadrants of water, for example, that hint at the phenomenons of currents, wind and tides.”
“I see the Luminescent Form Study series as a continuation of my previous work, but rather than focusing on the macro—landscape, environment, cultural history—these pieces are more intimate, inspired by the micro, by the details that provide a foundation for Cayman, literally: sand.”
“So much of our culture and lives are based on this ubiquitous material, so this exhibit seemed like a great opportunity to work these ideas into concrete pieces of art. Glass seemed ideal because it combined qualities of translucence, opacity and fluidity, the same qualities I noted in the microscopic images of the foraminifera.”
The exhibition runs through April 17 and you can watch more about it here.