"They outnumber us, they predate us, and can have a large impact on our functioning." - Sara Parent-Ramos
A number of possibilities would fit as the subject of that statement, buy you might not guess something as strange and microscopic as gut bacteria.
In a stunning new exhibition titled "A Tiny World of Green & Gold," artist Sara Parent-Ramos has ingeniously brought the world of our internal bodies to our outside line of vision.
Her visceral pieces stop us in our tracks, our brains whirring with sensations of horror and wonder at what is transpiring within our tummies. From the microscopic to the macroscopic, she forces us to look at things we usually ignore ... until something goes wrong.
Running through Aug. 19 at Space 4 Art Gallery in East Village, the exhibition is birthed from her international studies and years in the field of psychology. As a Fulbright scholar, she simultaneously studied psychology and art in Milan, Italy. I sat down with the accomplished and passionate artist to find out more and talk about her engaging work:
Q: How did studying psychology make you the artist you are? Why the switch?
A: I've always had an interest in the unseen things that guide our behavior. The first investigation of that was psychology, it's all about unseen forces, it's not tangible, and it makes it mysterious. Growing up, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Viewing the world in a different way and having something that wasn't visible guides how you interact with the world, and for me, my place and perspective.
Also, both of my parents are biologists, and I grew up looking at phytoplankton. This show is going back to that interest in the micro, with things that are conceptual and things that are both microscopic and macroscopic. My art gives form and emotion to the invisible.
Q: What was your inspiration for this exhibition? Was it a personal experience?
A: It was two things: I have a 10-month-old, and in doing research on breastfeeding, I got into researching the microbiome, how it is essential for people, and its connections with mood, physical and actions. It ties in that there are things that we can feel, but you can't really see, and I like playing with emotion of having something like a stomach ache, and what this little guy looks like. Number two is they can get great resolution images now. Bacteria are the funniest looking things, beautiful and minimalist, and there were shapes that I really enjoyed.
Q: Your work has a wonderful dichotomy to it, at times jarring and almost post-apocalyptic and other times graceful and hopeful. How does that work internally for you?
A: A long tradition my work plays into of being right on the edge of deterioration and beauty and decay. I love the line between repulsion or disgust and beauty. I also love accumulation and body references. Form is just as important as concept.
Q: What's up next for you?
A: The second part of this project is happening in North Park, at Art Produce involving kids and community groups, and having fun with clay. Stay tuned for details on the Art Produce website at artproduce.org.
The artist reception for "A Tiny World of Green & Gold" is from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14 at Space 4 Art Gallery, 325 15th St. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday.
Laurie Delk is an avid art historian, holding a master's degree in Art History, with concentrations in the Modern and Postmodern movements. She has taught classes at Tulane University, and has been published with several art publications including Sculpture Magazine and New Orleans Art Review. Send ideas for art stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.