Transmutation: New Work

Transmutation: Exhibition at Unitarian Church of Vancouver – March, 2011

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Where It All Began - mixed-media on canvas This was the first piece I worked on and the last one of this sequence to be finished. I was playing with the idea of "genetic scripture" to combine biblical passages with the double helix shape of DNA.

During the Darwin bicentennial (150 years after publication of the Origin of Species), I started reading about Darwin, starting with a biography of Charles and Emma (his wife) written for young adults to a National Geographic series on “What Darwin Didn’t Know” to books and websites about genetics and DNA (including an incomprehensible – to me – website called DNA for Dummies.

When Darwin wrote, “All the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form,” he was, frankly, guessing. To understand the story of evolution — both its narrative and its mechanism — modern Darwins don’t have to guess. They consult genetic scripture.

MODERN DARWINS, by Matt Ridley,
National Geographic, March 2009

The term “genetic scripture” captured my visual imagination and I began to explore integrating biblical passages with the familiar double helix pattern–creating a collage of images inspired by the question of how life began.

Concerned about offending Jews or Christians, it was pointed out that scientists could as easily be offended by my mixing religion and science. I have no intention to offend anyone; those of you who know me understand this. So please consider this just make my own contribution to the ongoing discourse on creation and evolution.

Leaf Helix (left) mixed media on canvas I began to notice double helix shapes all around me. Here I used found, dried leaves to form the pattern. I enjoy picking up objects from nature and incorporating into my art work.

Leaf helix (right section of diptych) In the beginning was... the heaven and the earth... the cell... DNA strands... life emerging from the ocean...

Creation - mixed media on wood panel In the beginning was... what? heaven and earth? the ocean? cells? DNA? This is another genetic scripture piece combining scripture into the double helix DNA image.

Lunar Quaternity - mixed-media on wood panel In this one, I collaged on a dinosaur skeleton and a map in his centre, thinking about how scientists create maps from all kinds of discoveries. I'd like to do a piece putting the old map legend of "There be dragons" in relation to "There be dinosaurs". An exploration of time and space.

Extinction - mixed-media on wood panel "A sob in the spine" is a quotation of Nabokov about what he wants a reader to feel. Nabokov. Here I took images of scientists working on dinosaur skeleton and imagined that they must experience a "sob in the spine" when their right brain kicks in to imagine the dinosaur who once lived on the earth. (Did the dinosaurs have a sob in their spine when they sensed extinction was coming?)

Alchemical Glacier - mixed-media on canvas Alchemical Glacier. I named this one because of my friend suggesting I add a bit of white to create a glacier. Alchemy because of the gold (sun) and silver (moon/reflection) paper.

Quintessential Voyage - mixed-media on canvas Darwin's voyage on the Beagle was anticipated to take 2-3 years, but in fact he was away for five years. In "Charles and Emma" it is reported when asked if he'd recommend it, he said only if the person had a compelling vision and the discipline to carry it out. Made me think of MA and PhD students I've known. His voyage was quintessential in many ways and I enjoyed playing with the "quint" part to reflect the five years.

I’d love to talk with you about what my art work touches in you.

Come to our Artists’ Reception on Saturday, March 26 at 7pm, or drop me a note.

Mary Bennett
maryinvancouver@gmail.com

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One Comment to “Transmutation: New Work”

  1. Hello Mary- I am glad to help you with your artwork.
    Let me know if I can be of further assistance.
    Gail

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