Aesthetics of cell biology showcased at Ann Arbor Art Fair

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By Ben Allan Smith | | Posted on July 18, 2018 4:42 PM

ANN ARBOR, MI – Thousands will take to the streets of Ann Arbor on Thursday to explore the works of featured artists from around the country at this year’s Art Fair.

Creatives of various disciplines will showcase a wide variety of works through the weekend, and one unique collection on display involves a fusion of art and cellular biology.

BioArtography curates photographs of microscopic observations of biological tissue, submitted by researchers from around the University of Michigan campus.

UM faculty organized the non-profit project in 2005 with the goal of sending students to networking opportunities around the country. All proceeds coming from each year’s Art Fair benefit the research

The group also aims to inform the public on the scientific processes used by UM researchers.

Deborah Gumucio, a professor of cell and developmental biology and director of BioArtography, explained the significance of producing visual representations for the public eye.

“Everything in the booth is about biology, the sciences, and important research projects that are going on at the university,” she said. “We’re trying to make the public understand what our basic science discoveries mean.”

She said the majority of the art displayed for purchase is a result of daily observations by researchers at the University. Colors seen in the photographs are actually added by scientists so they can observe tissue structure.

Each year, Gumucio, a curator of sorts, receives around 100 submissions and slightly manipulates them to produce unique visual representations. From there, a jury of art professionals selects between 12 and 15 pieces that are up for sale at the annual fair.

“These are a selective group of the most beautiful pieces we see throughout the year,” she said.

The resulting art is a representation of numerous tissues ranging from neurons in the brain to digestive tissue.

Gumucio said BioArtography is a fusion of art and science, allowing observers to learn about scientific advancements by researchers while enjoying the visual pleasure of unique photography.

“Art is this esoteric enjoyment of colors, shapes, forms, and symmetry,” she said. “Because of the beautiful way our bodies are assembled, it really is art. It’s total perspective.”

More pieces are available for purchase at the group’s  website,

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