print this page

MORPHOGRAPHICA
Alex Schreiber | Mindy Pitre | Pamela Mayne Correia

March 19, - June 2, 2012

composite image 2

Top: Mindy Pitre, Bubbles. The bubble-like tunnels left behind by microorganisms
in human bone. Thin section (digitally inverted) of a left fibula of a 16- to 32-month-old
child from the ancient site of Tell Leilan, Syria (1900 – 1728 BCE).

Bottom: Alex Schreiber, A wandering eye. Metamorphosing southern flounder larvae
stained for developing bone using a fluorescent dye.

 

Morpho (from ancient Greek morphē, μορφος)
– shape, form, or configuration.
Graphica (from ancient Greek graphikos, γραφικ-óς)
– of or relating to the pictorial arts.

Morphographica, a joint art installation by two St. Lawrence University faculty members, biologist Alex Schreiber and bio-archaeologist Mindy Pitre, and Pitre’s research partner, bio-archaeologist Pamela Mayne Correia, presents photomicrographs of biological specimens, including frogs, fish and human beings.  The artists selected images for their aesthetic appeal and scientific value to explore the intersection of art and science.  With such titles as Bonescape, Fried Noodles, Bamboo Sole Metamorphosis and A Wandering Eye, these works offer an unexpected sense of play, while also combining specialized technical data and a restrained visual elegance.

What genes transform tadpoles into frogs?  How does a larval flounder develop into a fish with both eyes on the same side of its head?  Assistant professor of biology Alex Schreiber, a developmental biologist who is fascinated by vertebrate metamorphosis, uses fluorescence and bright-field and dark-field light microscopy to photograph organisms stained with tissue-specific dyes.  With digital imaging software, Schreiber brings still images to life by morphing different developmental stages of larvae into one seamless transformation.  One of his videos, “Flatfish Metamorphosis,” is currently on display at the Primorye Oceanarium in Vladivostok, Russia.  When not in the lab, Schreiber can be found riding his BMW R1200C motorcycle-sidecar combination with his daughter, Madeleine.

Using samples that are viewed through light and scanning electron microscopy, Mindy Pitre and her research partner Pamela Mayne Correia (University of Alberta, Canada) study how ancient human bone is transformed by microorganisms.  Pitre, known in some circles as Mindy-ana Jones, has examined and excavated skeletons in Egypt, the Sudan, Syria, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.  As visiting assistant professor in anthropology, she teaches such courses as Human Origins, Dealing with the Dead, and Bones of Contention.  In her spare time, she enjoys working with students to simmer human teeth to prepare hundreds of specimens for the anthropology department's teaching collection.