Chinami E Michaels



The frameworks which science uses to understand the world have been ideas that have fascinated me throughout my artistic development. It started simply as a desire to understand the mechanics of depicting a physical substance, to understanding the physical interactions of materials. Through drawing, illustrations and color it progressed into a desire to understand how perception, learning and understanding were interrelated and how meaning could be communicated. Now as a biology major nearing the end of my degree I find that the biological frameworks I have studied have become integrated into my worldview, I derive satisfaction from being able to use them as a lens for insight the relationships and interactions of the living and inanimate world around me.

As I move closer to the end of my biology degree I feel the need to explore how science and art, two things I love and whose dialogues awaken my curiosity, can intersect or interface and otherwise relate to each other. Currently I am exploring how the conceptual frameworks used more commonly in the science field to understand the world and how fabrication tools used in the engineering field can relate to my artistic practice. I am also exploring how the spirit of scientific exploration and the “human” side of the scientific narrative and scientific practice can be evoked by my artistic practice. I have found that sculpture’s power to create a space for an encounter supports my work. Within it I can play with the materialization of biological ideas and scientific narratives.

There are many types of art that are related to science and through my explorative process I have begun to realize what my work presently is not. My artistic practice is not just scientific results that look like they could be called art. My artwork goes beyond just using materials more often associated with the scientific field or works that are tangentially related to science. My work is not scientific research. My art does not intend to advance the field of science, as is often claimed by the media. Instead, I am more focused on question such as “How can the larger frameworks which scientists use to understand specific areas be described? How can the heightened awareness of something be created? How can the reasons that scientists study highly specific areas in extreme detail be communicated? How can the passion, motivation and curiosity? How can this desire to understand the world through scientific frameworks be expressed? What artwork emerges from understanding the world through scientific frameworks and artistic design frameworks? What work emerges when the narrative tools which art uses to communicate are used to show the tools which science uses to understand a highly specific area?”

My process is to use sculpture to create a space for an encounter that inspires that type of fascination in the viewer. Sculpture has challenged me to think about physically creating a space for an encounter to occur. It allows the work to actually become interactive and requires the contemplation of the relationship between materials to each other. It creates a physical space for me to create a dialogue about ideas that fascinate me. Following the idea that the viewer enters into a relationship with a piece lets me engage with the idea that the work is not complete until it is activated by the viewer’s interaction. For me, this creates a stronger opportunity to engage. My sculptures create a space for an encounter to occur. By presenting ideas that engage with the ideas like the biological growth, place within an ecosystem and quantitative mapping of data to perceive interactions between separate aspects, I hope to create an opportunity for insight.

It's the pushing of the boundaries of understanding through art and science that fascinates me.
Although it can be said for many other fields, for me both the fields of art and science push the boundaries of my understanding of the world. Art and science challenge the notions of what I can see. They present things we have never seen, heard, experienced before. In neurobiology, currently it is theorized that everything we think, see, and feel is already in context of what have already experienced. Since the way we process our world and the relationships we examine to try and understand the world are drawn upon contextual information we have already experienced, by creating new artwork that showcases new things artist and scientists are literally reshaping how people can see things and expanding the way one can perceive and understand the world.