Art and science are ways that we try to explain our place in the world and tackle unanswered questions. While they may seem to represent unrelated approaches to our understanding, they overlap in important ways that present opportunities to enhance both. Whether through paint brushes or petri dishes, the creativity, conceptualization, and discovery inherent to both art and science place them surprisingly close on the continuum of efforts to make sense of our world. Broad's artist-in-residence program allows leading scientists and forward-thinking artists to work, communicate, and learn together to benefit both science and art, spurring the creative thinking that drives innovation.
Photo: Michaelann Ferro
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard hosted the in-person premiere of this meaningful, online, collaborative exhibit. The exhibit was installed at 415 Main Street in the second floor connector gallery, which is open to all Broadies. Questions? Contact Deborah Davidson.
Marking Lives COVID-19 is a community art project conceived by Concord-based artist Elizabeth Awalt to commemorate the American lives lost to COVID. This exhibition was a realization of the collaborative social media project. Artists were invited to make at least 1,000 “marks” on any surface in any medium, and then post a public photo of the work using the hashtag #markinglivescovid19. Inspired by projects like the AIDS Memorial Quilt, Awalt collected “marks” representing lives lost to COVID-19 in the United States. Marking Lives COVID-19 serves as a memorial to this tragic event in history.
Remembering Together: Marking Lives COVID-19
A virtual conversation and reflection on art, science, and loss
Presented by Catalyst Conversations and Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
November 17, 2021, 1-2pm
Moderated by Deborah Davidson
A virtual conversation and reflection on art, science, and loss featuring Liz Awalt, Roby Bhattacharyya, and Benjamin Cooley.
Marking Lives COVID-19 founder and participating artist, Liz Awalt, Broad infectious disease researcher, Roby Bhattacharyya, and Broad visualization software engineer, Benjamin Cooley, discuss how they each continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and the immense loss of lives in our nation and around the world. Their conversation was an opportunity for the three of them to share and reflect from both a scientific and artistic point of view. Underlying their respective practices is a spirit of generosity, a manifestation of our collective humanity, demonstrating how they contribute to that essential notion of who we are.
Liz Awalt says about her collective project: “when the numbers of COVID-19 deaths skyrocketed in December 2020, I was struggling to justify my painting practice amid the raging virus, divisive politics, and racial injustice in our country. I decided to respond by acting on an idea that broke through my sense of despair. This idea was clear and simple: make a painting with one thousand separate marks, where each mark represents and honors a life lost to COVID-19.”
Roby Bhattacharyya’s “lab aspires to be a kind, collaborative, and inclusive environment in which to pursue rigorous science that addresses important questions in infectious diseases. We value diversity of thought, experience, and therefore identity, and we believe that this diversity enriches the science we do, the questions we choose to ask, and the people we become.”
Benjamin Cooley wrote, early in the pandemic: “Data has been used as a means of warning, informing, and educating. To be sure, this is important work; but in reporting the pandemic data, we also need to reinforce the humanity of the data. These positive cases are entire lives uprooted. With rapidly evolving aggregated datasets such as case counts, deaths, hotspots, and hospitalizations, it can be easy to forget these stories and focus instead on precision.”