"Yeast Go Viral" made from S. cerevisiae, infected with a virus called L-A
"Yeast Go Viral" made from S. cerevisiae, infected with a virus called L-A

These Works of Art Were Grown in Petri Dishes

"Yeast Go Viral" made from S. cerevisiae, infected with a virus called L-A
"Yeast Go Viral" made from S. cerevisiae, infected with a virus called L-A

If you've kept up with your petri dish art news, you know that bacteria can be manipulated into different shapes with beautiful results. Seeing the potential in this art form, the American Society for Microbiology launched the first ASM Agar Art Contest. Members of the society were invited to use their imagination and "paint" using micro-organisms. There were 85 submissions of unique artworks in total, which were all carefully scrutinized by judges Michele Banks, Jamie Henzy, Vincent Racaniello, Dennis Bray, and Penny Chisholm. 

The official winner is "Neurons," created by New England Biolabs' Mehmet Berkmen and artist Maria Penil. Penil chose three types of bacteria, yellow Nesterenkonia, orange Deinococcus, and Sphingomonas, as her "paints," which translated into vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. The specimens were grown for two days at 30 degrees Celsius before being sealed in epoxy. 

The runner up, "NYC Biome MAP," shows a fluorescent view of New York City. Created by community lab educator Christine Marizzi (with help from more than 50 participants), the piece incorporates Escherichia coli K12 bacteria engineered with glowing proteins such as GFP, RFP and YFP. Finally, the second runner up "Harvest Season"—produced by Cold Spring Harbor Labs' Maria Eugenia Inda—uses a species of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae to depict an idyllic farmhouse scene. 

Besides the winners, ASM shared all of the hopefuls for its People's Choice award on Facebook. Entries include Dr. Who's TARDIS and a recreation of Starry Night. 

"Neurons" by Mehmet Berkmen and Maria Penil

"NYC Biome MAP" Christine Marizzi

"Wibbly-Wobbly-Timey-Wimey" by Ella R., Northwestern University

“Starry Night” by Melanie Sullivan

"Cell to Cell" by Mehmet Berkmen and Maria Penil

"Harvest Season" by Maria Eugenia Inda

[h/t: Hyperallergic]

Louvre Abu Dhabi
The Louvre Abu Dhabi Just Opened the World's First Radio-Guided Highway Art Gallery
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi

One way to plan an epic art road trip is to drive from museum to museum, but in the United Arab Emirates, you can take in masterpieces without leaving your car. As Artforum reports, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has lined a stretch of highway with billboards displaying works by Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, and Piet Mondrian.

The 10 works on display along the E/11 Sheikh Zayed road connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi are recreations of pieces at or on loan to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which developed the project in partnership with three radio stations. Dubbed the Highway Gallery, it was "created to reinforce art's role in elevating everyday life into something beautiful and memorable," the museum website reads.

Like in a traditional gallery, the 30-foot-by-23-foot displays along the road are accompanied by a guided audio tour. Drivers can learn the title, artist, technique, and other details about each piece by tuning into a participating local radio station (Radio 1 FM, Classic FM, or Emarat FM). There they will hear descriptions of Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronnière, Van Gogh’s Self Portrait, 1887, and Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow, and Black, as well as the Islamic sculpture Mari-Cha Lion and the sarcophagus of Egyptian princess Henuttawy.

The Highway Gallery will run through mid-March. After that, art lovers can drive their cars to the Louvre Abu Dhabi to see the items in person.

[h/t Artforum]

5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.


Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.


Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.


If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.


While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.


Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.


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