This year we are excited to partner with the Department of Art History at the University of Kansas to provide background and insight on participating artists and their work. David Cateforis, Department Chair and Art History Professor, leads graduate students enrolled in the course Art Here, Art Now as they select and research some of the artists participating in the Art Auction.
Rachel Robinson, MA student in Art History at the University of Kansas, on Sarah Hearn
Underneath a small glass dome hung in the corner of the Lawrence Art Center’s main gallery lives a small group of mysterious, neon-hued organisms. Titled Viral Sea Change, this collage by Sarah Hearn utilizes cut paper, photographs, and drawings to represent diverse ocean-dwelling microbial life forms, bacteria, and single-celled organisms. Layered on top of a black background and framed by a circular white border, these elements simultaneously evoke the systematic process of scientific observation and the fantastical appearance of our underwater ecosystem. The work’s presentation makes us feel as if we are looking at this densely packed and brightly colored mass of forms underneath the lens of a microscope, the only way human eyes can see them. The strange beauty of the forms themselves—their Day-Glo hue makes them seem not quite real—reminds us that there is much about the ocean life that we do not currently understand. Hearn intends to bring attention to the changes in these organisms caused by slight increases in ocean temperature, the full consequences of which are not yet known.
The Kansas City-based Hearn is a visual artist and researcher. Her interest in the real and imagined natural world, both on Earth and beyond it, drives her artistic practice. Viral Sea Change belongs to a larger body of work titled Out There, which uses multifarious representations of natural forms under glass domes to explore various ecological issues.