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Beaded viruses and geology-inspired paintings show the art in science
Date:6/12/2008

Holly Wichman found herself an empty-nester with a well-established research lab in 2000, so she used some of her new found time to pursue an artistic activity that paralleled her research. The virologist began making small beaded sculptures in the shapes of viruses that she studies in her lab. Wichman's beaded viruses along with artworks by two other scientists will be displayed at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Gallery starting 16 June.

"We are excited that AAAS can exhibit scientists from so many different disciplines who find art in their science," said Virginia Stern, director of the AAAS Art of Science and Technology program which was established in 1985 to showcase art about science, art by scientists, or art that employs a new or original technology or technique. The new exhibit runs until 5 September with a public reception Tuesday 17 June from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Nearly 20 virus-inspired sculptures made of beads will be part of the exhibit, called "Crystal Structures: Viruses in Glass." The virus family Microviridae, which Wichman studies in her lab, inspired the work "Purple Haze," a sphere three-and-a-half inches wide made of purple bead clusters connected by delicate straw-like bugle beads.

Wichman's pieces in the AAAS exhibit will be shown with those by Bentley Fane, a professor at the University of Arizona. Fane began beading in 2006 when he came to Wichman's lab for a sabbatical. The two scientists study the same virus family, and Fane planned to spend two months of his sabbatical learning new lab techniques. He ended up learning how to bead as well, and he strung together a series of virus structuresincluding one for herpes.

Wichman and Fane noticed how certain configurations are easier to bead, that they hold together more easily. The real-life viral counterparts also tend to be more durable and common in nature than the configurations that tend not to hold their shape when beaded. One
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Contact: Molly McElroy
mmcelroy@aaas.org
202-326-6434
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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