Microbiology students showcase artistic depictions of studies

Biotechnology Through the Artists Lens fills the exhibition space within the Mary Idema Pew Library  Courtesy / Agnieszka Szarecka 

“Biotechnology Through the Artist’s Lens” fills the exhibition space within the Mary Idema Pew Library  Courtesy / Agnieszka Szarecka 

Arie Nienhuis

When it comes to the various studies present at Grand Valley State University, one would typically not assume that art and microbiology would have much of a potential for crossover. However, students from CMB 150: Biotechnology and Society were able to depict their studies in the form of art, and these works are currently being shown in the Mary Idema Pew Library’s Exhibition Space.

“Biotechnology Through the Artist’s Lens” is an exhibit highlighting the range of work that CMB 150 students completed this past semester. The work consists of a variety of artistic representations of numerous examples of biotechnology and microbiology, ranging from activism to agricultural technologies. 

Appearing in various artistic mediums such as clay models, the relevant biological topics are presented in a visual and easily understood form. Agnieszka Szarecka, Associate Professor of Cell and Microbiology at GVSU, detailed some of these pieces.

“When I look at what’s exhibited, I see work pertaining to modification of plants, an interesting piece related to heart diseases, forensic analysis and work related to viruses and bacteriophages,” Szarecka said. “CMB 150 is a very broad class. We cover a variety of topics from cells to entire organisms.”

Szarecka said she sees this combination of art and science as a great way to foster understanding of the relevant subjects in the minds of those outside of the field of microbiology.

“I think (art) is one of the most interesting ways of presenting science because everybody likes art,” Szarecka said. “It’s a way to convey more than the scientific information. There is a lot of thought, emotion and non-scientific motivation that drives the project forward.”

Szarecka also said that the exhibition will allow students to connect to the subject matter on a deeper level, as the scientific jargon that often accompanies these ideas is presented in a visual way, allowing for anyone to see how science relates to their daily lives. Some of the content, such as the possibility for gene editing to prevent disease, is something that could become highly relevant to the general public in the coming years.

“Even if students are not interested in taking (CMB 150) or learning more about biotechnology, the topic is broad and controversial enough for them to want to see what’s out there, as well as what other students experienced in the process of creating this art.” Szarecka said.  

“Biotechnology Through the Artist’s Lens” will be shown in the Mary Idema Pew Library Exhibition Space from now until July 15. More information can be found on the GVSU Cell and Microbiology website, gvsu.edu/cmb.