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Volume 24, Number 8 — August 2017

Science & Art: 'Artistic R-evolution,' 'Earth Permanence' and 'Orders of Magnitude'

Dr. Fred Hossler, professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology in ETSU's James H. Quillen College of Medicine, dicusses images from his recent Natural History Museum exhibition,
Dr. Fred Hossler, professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology in ETSU's James H. Quillen College of Medicine, dicusses images from his recent Natural History Museum exhibition, "Orders of Magnitude."
Additional photos below »

June 25, 2008

The first exhibition, "Artistic R-evolution: The Courtship Between Art and Science," featured works of art created by ETSU faculty, staff and students, as well as casts of local fossil finds and a timeline tracing Earth's history from 4.3 billion years ago to the Late Miocene at the Gray Fossil Site (4.5 to 7 million years ago).

The artworks explored various themes of natural history — evolution, ecosystems, fossils, the environment, nature and biodiversity. The exhibit was on display at ETSU's Carroll Reece Museum, then at Kingsport's Renaissance Center. It was funded under an agreement with the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The idea for "Artistic R-evolution" came about soon after Zavada joined the ETSU staff in July 2006.

At that time, Zavada said, "'Artistic R-evolution' offers a new way to experience and understand complex systems in our natural world, whether modern or ancient. The museum will be a unique venue in which visitors of all ages can look at and experience our natural world from different perspectives, and this exhibit at the Reece is just a preview of what is to come."

Zavada continued, "Many of the art students had never heard of a 'tapir' before, much less a tapir that is five million years old. Now, I suspect, few students will ever forget the tapir or its companions in the ancient sinkhole in Gray because they were invited, and challenged, to use their imaginations to interpret the themes of the Museum and Fossil Site."

The most recent exhibitions, which closed in April, were "Earth Permanence" by Kara Bledsoe, artist-in-residence in the ETSU Ceramics Department, and "Orders of Magnitude" by Dr. Fred Hossler, professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology in ETSU's James H. Quillen College of Medicine.

"Earth Permanence" showcased some of the flora found at the Gray Fossil Site. Bledsoe directly cast live plant life in clay, "exemplifying the fragility, complexity and beauty inherent in nature." By connecting directly with the earth using clay, she strove to "capture the fleeting nature of plants, making objects worthy of existence and permanence."

"Orders of Magnitude" featured photographs taken with the scanning electron microscope, which records views of the intricate substructures and micro-designs of objects and tissues, and of places within them, inaccessible to the naked eye or the regular light microscope. According to Dr. Hossler, "many of these views have significance in our understanding of normal structure and function and disease processes. Just as the size of objects increases by powers of ten — as one compares our human realm with the earth, our solar system, the Milky Way, and beyond — it is natural to anticipate that the substructure of objects similarly diminishes by orders of magnitude in the opposite direction, each subunit being composed of its own subunits, and so forth." A few modest examples of the design and patterns revealed in the latter sequence were included in this exhibition.

If You Go: The ETSU and GSB Natural History Museum, located on State Route 75 less than two miles from Gray Exit 13 on I-26, is open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, visit www.grayfossilmuseum.com or call toll free 866-202-6223.

READ ON about Science & Art:
— Get "The Scoop on Poop" and other activities for a variety of ages.
— Back to main story: Science & Art: Creative Partners.
— Inside the Museum: "Symbiosis"
— The Next Exhibition: "Ocean Gems: Gems of the Sea"
— Back to main story: Science & Art: Creative Partners.




Hossler magnified this ant 115 times with a Scanning Microscope. Increased magnification of the ant's face shows microscopic bacteria living on the surface of the ant.


The "Earth Permanence" exhibit by Kara Bledsoe included this "Sweetgum Leaf," direct-cast from real leaves from her yard. The process involves brushing layers of liquid clay onto the leaves, and then burning the leaf away to leave its cast.


"Artistic R-evolution" artworks included "Family Roots: Love" (hand-felted fibers, hand-stitched) by recent ETSU graduate Ashleigh Robertson.


"Nesse" (copper, brass, silver, feathers) was created by ETSU metals instructor Mindy Herrin.