Bioscientific Imaginaries featuring Marta de Menezes, Kathy High, & Jennifer Willet

Image Credit: Jennifer Willet, Baroque Biology Paper Theatre, 2019. Photo Credit: Justin Elliott

Virtual tour with curators


Historically, popular perceptions of science reinforced clear divisions between the living and the dead, the body and the environment, the human and the non-human. Bioscientific Imaginaries brings together three of the foremost figures in bioart—a practice in which artists use biological technologies and materials as art media—to challenge conventional assumptions surrounding science and its methods. Using strategies of play and humor, artists Kathy High, Marta de Menezes, and Jennifer Willet question commonly held beliefs in the autonomy of the body, revealing it to be but one component in a complex system. All three artists work with themes of gender, sexuality, and love to reimagine scientific imagery and methods. Works on view in Bioscientific Imaginaries explore the ways that science can both illuminate and complicate questions about the nature of identity, relationships, and the body. 

Kathy High is an interdisciplinary artist / educator who collaborates with scientists, and considers living systems, animal sentience, and the ethical dilemmas of biotechnology and medical industries. She produces photographs, films, sculpture and installations posing queer and feminist questions into areas of bio-science that have been exhibited across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia. High is Head and Professor of Video and New Media in Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. She is a supporter of community DIY science and ecological art practices and is the project coordinator for a non-profit urban environmental center, NATURE Lab at The Sanctuary for Independent Media. Among many honors, she is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, and Guggenheim Foundation.

Marta de Menezes explores the intersection between Art and Biology, working in research laboratories demonstrating that new biological technologies can be used as new art media.In 1999 de Menezes created her first biological artwork (Nature?) by modifying the wing patterns of live butterflies. Since then, she has used diverse biological techniques including functional MRI of the brain to create portraits where the mind can be visualised (Functional Portraits, 2002); fluorescent DNA probes to create micro-sculptures in human cell nuclei (nucleArt, 2002); sculptures made of proteins (Proteic Portrait, 2002-2007), DNA (Innercloud, 2003; The Family, 2004) or incorporating live neurons (Tree of Knowledge, 2005) or bacteria (Decon, 2007). Her work has been presented internationally in exhibitions, articles and lectures. She is currently the artistic director of Ectopia, an experimental art laboratory in Lisbon, and Director of Cultivamos Cultura in the South of Portugal.

Jennifer Willet is an internationally recognized artist in the field of BioArt. Her work resides at the intersection of art and science, and explores notions of representation, the body, ecologies, and interspecies interrelations in the biotechnological field. In 2009, Willet opened the first biological art lab in Canada, called INCUBATOR: Hybrid Laboratory at the Intersection of Art, Science, and Ecology.  For more, see Previously, Willet collaborated with Shawn Bailey on an innovative computational, biological, artistic, project titled BIOTEKNICA, she taught in the Studio Arts Department at Concordia University, and completed her PhD in the Interdisciplinary Humanities Program at the same institution. She now serves as Assistant Professor in the School of Visual Arts at The University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada. Willet’s exhibitions include: the Arnolfini Museum, Bristol UK (2010), Exit Art Gallery, New York, NY (2009), Ars Electronica festival, Linz (2008), FOFA Gallery, Montreal (2007), ISEA San Jose, USA (2006), Biennial Electronic Arts Perth Perth, Australia (2004), The European Media Arts Festival Osnabrück , Germany (2003), La Société des arts et technologiques (SAT) Montreal, Canada (2005), among others. Jennifer Willet’s work is managed by IOTA Institute: