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Adaptations to Extremes, An Art / Science Collaboration

January 19, 2019 - February 22, 2019

Artist Reception – February 2nd 4:00-6:00pm

Panel Talk at Bolton Historical Museum, February 3rd at 3pm

Both events are FREE and open to the public

Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 1:00-5:00pm and Saturday 12:00-4:00pm

The Lake George Arts Project has produced a 30 page hardcover book documenting the Adaptations to Extremes Project.  You can view the book online HERE.  If you would like to purchase a hard copy, please call us (518) 668-2616 or contact mail@lakegeorgearts.org.

Opening January 19th and running through February 22nd, 2019, the Lake George Arts Project’s Courthouse Gallery will present “Adaptations to Extremes,” an Art/Science collaboration.  The reception for the artists has been rescheduled for February 2nd, 4 – 6 pm.  The exhibition is co-curated by Laura Von Rosk and scientists Dr. Joan Bernhard and Dr. Sam Bowser; artists include Elizabeth Albert, JoAnn Axford, Terry Conrad, Josh Dorman, Susan Heideman, Eva Henderson, Charlene Leary, Deanna Lee, Corwin Levi, Marilyn McCabe, Joy Muller-McCoola, Jeanne Noordsy, Shaun O’Boyle, Victoria Palermo, Rebecca Smith, and Kathleen Thum.

In addition to the exhibition at the Courthouse Gallery in Lake George, there will be a panel discussion on  February 3rd, 3 PM, at the Bolton Historical Museum in Bolton Landing, NY, with writer Michael Coffey serving as moderator. A number of participating artists will join curator Laura Von Rosk and scientists Joan Bernhard and Sam Bowser to discuss the importance of Joan’s research, as well as the challenges and insights resulting from this year-long art/science dialogue, and their endeavors in artistic creations and interdisciplinary connections. Both events are FREE and open to the public.

A major theme in the biological sciences is the way in which organisms adapt to environmental extremes. The Santa Barbara Basin is a bowl-shaped geological formation off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Limited movement of water in this depression has created an environment severely depleted of oxygen. In such a place it would be surprising to find organisms that need oxygen to live, yet scientists have documented the existence of foraminifera, a type of single-celled organism, living there in abundance. How have foraminifera adapted to an oxygen-deprived environment? For that matter, how do anyorganisms respond to living in such extreme environments? These questions fuel the research of Dr. Joan Bernhard, from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and her colleagues in their study of this natural “dead zone” in the ocean. The exhibition “Adaptations to Extremes” presents work by a group of artists engaged with the scientists involved in this research, as well as samples of their communications over the course of this ongoing project.

One group of artists explored the theme specifically using the “optics” of Dr. Bernhard’s research. These artists made new work based on correspondence with Dr. Bernhard and her colleague Sam Bowser, scientific advisor to the exhibition. They were offered access to technical reports, photographs, and the researchers’ hypotheses. One artist, Terry Conrad, was invited to accompany and assist Dr. Bernhard’s crew last spring aboard the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Robert Gordon Sproul research vessel as they sampled the sea floor in the Santa Barbara Basin.

A second group of artists — selected for the exhibition because of their interest in the biological or marine sciences – had already produced original works germane to the broad theme of adaptation.

Dr. Bowser engaged with all the artists by questioning them on their artworks using the scientific method of hypothesis testing. The resulting dialogues in both groups – artists responding to scientific research, and scientists responding to artworks – were often surprising, sometimes amusing, and always thoughtful and fascinating.

What informs both the work of science and art is a spirit of inquiry and imagination.  Equally, both disciplines must embrace their sometimes perplexing results — and then dive in and ponder further.

This exhibition is funded in part by the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust; Adirondack Studios; the Community Exchange Foundation; Mannix Marketing; the New York State Council on The Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; and the National Science Foundation. The Courthouse Gallery is located at the side entrance of the Old County Courthouse, corner of Canada and Lower Amherst Streets, Lake George, NY. The Courthouse Gallery hours during exhibitions are Tuesday through Friday 12 – 5 PM, Saturday 12 – 4 PM, and all other times by appointment.

Articles and info online:

Lake George Mirror: Artists and Scientists in Conversation
Terry Conrad – University of Iowa
JoAnn Axford – Ceramics Monthly 
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Falling in love with foraminifera
Artists and Scientist in dialogue: Adaptations to Extremes Exhibition


January 19, 2019
February 22, 2019
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