In an ongoing collaboration with a phycologist (a scientist who studies algae), I created a 2021 series inspired by a diverse group of protists called diatoms. I worked with diatoms and algae on the west coast in British Columbia over 20 years ago in my first job as a biologist. I was first introduced to these singled-celled aquatic organisms in a high school biology class, and went on to study them in a university course with the late Dr. Robert Sheath. After completing my Bachelor of Science degree, he helped me find my first job as a biologist, in 2000, studying freshwater algae in British Columbia.
Diatoms are single-celled photosynthesizing organisms that are covered in intricately patterned glass cell walls called frustules. They’re responsible for producing a significant proportion of Earth’s oxygen, and there are thousands of different species. This series of woodcuts looks at the diversity of diatoms found in samples I collected and images from my collaborator. These pieces remind me of towering cityscapes and human architecture, though they’re from drawings of organisms whose actual size is a few thousandths of a millimetre.
This work was first shown together in a duo show, called WaterBodies, with Amanda Lilleston at Spudnik Press, Chicago, in summer 2021.