Elizabeth Simonson is a Minneapolis native who has been making science-based art for years. Last December, Simonson installed a "biomorphic, bead-based sculptural installation" on the ceiling of the Walker Art Center. Titled "Instar," the piece speaks to the ability of animals to undergo metamorphosis; to change from one thing to another as they evolve. In an e-mail to The Huffington Post, Simonson discussed her own transformation, which you can read below.
HuffPost: What compelled you to begin making art that is heavily influenced by science?
ES: It was not my intention to make science-based art, but I was leery of looking at work that was so personal and subjective to the artist that it left the viewer out of the experience and kept at a distance. At the time, I was painting abstractly and coming close to making the same mistake myself. I felt and still feel that abstraction is a powerful language, and it is important to me that the viewer has an accessible path to share in my exploration of it. No matter how complex it gets, science is ultimately transparent and understandable, yet within its own confines of logic, there seems to be infinite possibilities for discovering unexpected beauty and experiences.
HuffPost: How does logic come into play in your work?
ES: I use logic (systems/patterns) to set up a situation whereby my participation, or the materials I am using at the time, influences the outcome of the system. I am inspired by the challenge of doing something with machine-like precision while knowing that the fallibility of the human condition will come into play, creating unpredictable and complex beauty. One pattern may involve covering from ceiling to floor, a wall or room with consecutive rows of tape. Each successive layer conforms to the imperfections of the previous row where by a subtle crease evolves into a voluminous shape. Another system may use a mathematical system to organization hand-made or fabricated units. The enormous task of both building and attaching the units underscores the complex relationship between a rigid and fixed system with the limitations of the material and the maker.
HuffPost: What materials do you often use and why?
ES: I use common everyday materials like tape, wire, tiles, fishing line, sometimes office supplies, or anything that comes in multiples. I am excited by how various systems/patterns I initiate transform the material into something that is initially unrecognizable, only for the viewer to have an "ah-ha" experience of recognition on closer examination. Recently I have been working with beads because of their cellular shape. Over the years I realized that on some level all of my work has been an exploration of mini life forms, albeit abstract, and the introduction of beads has opened up a whole new world of color and pattern building for me.
See some of Simonson's artwork in the slideshow below: