Art Under the Microscope

November 15, 2012

In keeping with the spirit of research, the NCRC Art Program generates an environment of inspiration and innovation through the display of art and through arts programming with the intention of stimulating creative scientific minds. The exhibition Art Under the Microscope presents impressive scientific imagery interpreted through textile arts, a perfect blending of art and science. We are delighted to present this unique exhibition to the NCRC community and beyond.

The Society for the Arts in Healthcare has partnered with the University of Michigan Health System's Gifts of Art program and the University of Michigan Center for Organogenesis/BioArtography to showcase this fascinating combination of art and science. This unique collection of sixteen art quilts, created by the group Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends, is inspired by the beauty of scientific photographs taken through the microscope. In the course of this work, the microscope and special stains are used to examine tissues for alterations in structure or function that are characteristic of health or disease. Art under the Microscope aims to honor scientific research efforts, enrich community spaces by bringing the arts into everyday life, and raise public awareness about the importance of the arts in healthcare settings.

North Campus Research Complex is at the crossroads of cutting edge research. Developing a dialog between scientists and artists is the main objective of the Art Program - to introduce visual and performing arts in the form of educational experiences that are dynamic and thought provoking. This exhibition exemplifies the multidisciplinary and collaborative spirit at NCRC.

Featured Art Descriptions

Escher's NeedlepointEscher’s Needlepoint

Quilt by Lisa Ellis

Kaelyn Male, Graduate Student, Cell Biology, Duke University

The surface of the gut is thrown into small projections (villi) with invaginations
(crypts) at their base. The villi help to increase the area of the gut surface for
 absorption, while the crypts are the home of the stem cells that are responsible 
for continuous renewal of this epithelium. This is a cross-section of villi and
 crypts in the small intestine of an adult mouse. It is stained to identify cell nuclei
 (purple), and to show junctions between cells (green).

Art Under the Microscope ImageFibroblasting

Quilt by Judy Busby

Michael Dame, Research Associate,
Department of Pathology, University of Michigan

This human skin cell, a fibroblast, is growing in a culture and has been labeled
 with dyes that identify the proteins that enable the cell to attach and spread 
(green – vinculin; red – actin). Skin fibroblasts secrete proteins that anchor the
 cells and allow them to spread. Studying the way cells attach and spread helps 
us understand how cells behave in skin diseases.

Loch NessLoch Ness

Quilt by Carole Nicholas

Åsa Kolterud, Postdoctoral Research Fellow,
Cell & Developmental Biology, University of Michigan

During embryogenesis, the developing intestine undergoes a remarkable remodeling
process in which the surface of the gut tube is folded into finger-like projections
called villi. These villi, which extend into the lumen of the gut tube, drastically
increase the absorptive surface of the intestine and are important for efficient
nutrient uptake. This photomicrograph shows the initial buckling of the intestinal
epithelium (stained red) into nascent villi. The nuclei of the cells are stained blue.
 Note the flower-like nuclei within the epithelium – these are dividing cells lining
 up their chromosomes.