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O'Reilly Art Exhibit Fuses Art and Science

by Jennifer Stannard

Kaleidoscope

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


A unique art exhibit, entitled "Genetics Revelation: Reinterpreting Science and Art," is currently being displayed at the UAB School of Public Health. The exhibit, which runs through April 4, is free to the public and open from 8 a.m. - 5p.m., Monday through Friday.

Hunter O'Reilly, Ph.D., is the mastermind behind this exhibit. O'Reilly, who is an experienced geneticist as well as an internationally shown artist, has created numerous interesting peices of work, many of which are included in the exhibit.

"Hunter O'Reilly's work represents a unique fusion of the two fields that many consider completely unrelated: art and science," Richard Bennett, student activities coordinator at the UAB School of Public Health, said.

"The combination of art and science can lead to innovations in both fields," O'Reilly said. "Many associate science with facts and structure and art wiith creativity and whimsy.

"At the edge of science, creativity is required to make new discoveries. To make greate art one needs structure and interesting concepts. Combining both disciplines will lead to the creation of innovative artworks and offers unique solutions to scientific questions."

O'Reilly, whose work has been features in magazines and scientific journals as well as exhibited around the world, uses many different types of media in her art.

These media vary from digital collages and photographs of people, to oil paintings on installations. Her latest project, which is not on diaplay at the School of Public Health, is to create "living drawings" utilizing bioluminescent bacteria.

"I have had an interest in both art and science since childhood," O'Reilly said. "In the middle of graduate school in genetics, I also began to seriously pursue art, in part to relieve the frustrations associated with graduate school. After I received my Ph.D., I discovered how combining art and biology can lead to innovations in both fields."

Two subjects that interest O'Reilly both as an artist and s scientist are cloning and stem cell research. There are multiple artworks on display that express her belief that a clone would be a unique individual as well as several pieces that look at issues related to stem cell research.

Friday, Feb. 20, O'Reilly will present a lecture at the UAB School of Public Health. The lecture, entitled "The Fusion of Art and Science," will take place at 12 p.m. in the Ryals Building (1665 University Blvd.), which is where the exhibit is located.

"My lecture will look at artworks incorporating biological subject matter by contemporary artists," O'Reilly said. "I will also include my own artworks in this talk."

O'Reilly teaches both art and biology at the University of Wisconsin.

"I discuss bioethical issues and scientific questions, and use biological materials in my artwork," she said. "My ultimate goal is to do an experiment that makes a scientific discovery and is an artwork at the same time."

For more information, visit Hunter O'Reilly Web site at http://www.hunteroreilly.com

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