Winnipeg Free Press: Meet science artist in residence, Seema Goel
Seema Goel, artist in residence at the U of M Faculty of Science, will discuss the concept of the “practice” of art at the News Cafe Friday, October 2.
“Having completed a master of fine arts in sculpture and almost completed a master of science, her work straddles both fields. Goel is most interested in the relationships humans form with each other, with animals, with places. Her work is incredibly varied in its use of materials, but it is often poignantly, uncomfortably funny. She’s been known to use stuffed mice, for example, to off-putting comedic effect. In a 2005 piece, 52 mice stand in a row. Holding candles, the mice are triggered by a digital circuit to sing, in a chorus of tiny, high-pitched voices, Happy Birthday to DNA.
The piece, which commemorates the 52nd anniversary of DNA’s discovery, is also the result of Goel’s research on our relationship with lab mice. As her artist statement notes, the species does not exist in nature but was constructed for use as scientific tool.
In another project, Goel recreated five Inuit sculptures out of spongy Wonder Bread, critiquing the commodification of Inuit culture and the diabetes epidemic that is caused, in part, by the low-nutrition food shipped to the North.
If Goel is a scientist, she’s the most un-stuffy scientist ever. If she’s an artist, she’s the most grounded in evidence and data. What her practice ultimately does is erase all borders between modes of learning. She uses whatever material she has at her disposal — mice, bread, wool, clay — to get us to re-examine our relationship with it. Her work makes me aware every single substance or object I live with has a complex story to tell.”