Cancer: Finding beauty in the Beast is an art-science collaborative project involving Anne Neal, Caroline Shaw Ometz, Dhru Deb, Elisabeth Schalij, Punneta Mittal and Sandra Freeman. Each one of the artists takes unique approach to understand the beauty of life in a manifestation that is feared by many.
Variability of shape, size, and signaling within and among eight lung cancer cell lines (earlier derived from eight lung cancer patients and maintained at Dr. John Minna’s laboratory at UT Southwestern Medical Center) immuno-stained with antibodies against phosphorylated STAT3 (green), phosphorylated PTEN (red), and DNA (blue), Dhru Deb, Nikon camera, © 2014. This image inspired all five participants in the "Cancer: Finding Beauty in the Beast" collaborative project.
"A Conceptual Model of Strange Attractor in Cancer Phase Space" by Dhruba Deb, acrylic on paper and Adobe Illustrator, © 2014. Cancer phase space (grey) represents 10 hallmarks (biological attributes) of cancer. Strange attractor (colored curve) traces the path to which cancer cell’s trajectory may be attracted. (First published in Leonardo Journal doi:10.1162/LEON_a_01099)
Dhru Deb used cell and molecular biology technique in the lab, and Cubism and Abstract Expressionism painting styles in the studio, to study the unpredictability of cancer from a chaos theory perspective.
"Order to Chaos" by Caroline Shaw Ometz, oil on canvas, © 2014. The healthy lung cell in the center is being attacked by the yellow cancer cell, and the healthy cell's membrane is tearing-up. The order of healthy cells is beginning to evolve into the chaos of cancer cells.
Caroline Shaw Ometz is guided by the Japanese concept of "wabi-sabi" that finds beauty in the mundane, as well as scientific fractal theory that studies self-repeating units.
"Cellular Changes: Symmetry-Transition-Entropy" by Anne Neal, kiln-formed art glass, © 2015. Healthy cells are going through a series of changes during cancer initiation and progression.
Anne Neal, an experienced nurse, works in kiln-formed art glass and is exploring the emotional response of patients to cancer diagnosis and treatment using color and shape as metaphor for thoughts and feelings.
"T-Cells Attacking C-Cells" by Elisabeth Schalij, watercolor on Yupo paper, © 2015. The idea is to train our body's own immune cells, such as T-cells, to track-down and attack the cancer cells, as opposed to using chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Elisabeth Schalij creates watercolors and acrylic paintings that bring her belief in positive, creative energy to the foreground. Elisabeth believes that every person is born with creativity, and when used, the person will be able to direct this creative energy to a positive form of therapy.
"Will There Be Anything Left of Me?" by Sandra Freeman, digital photography (originally shot in 2009, digitally processed in 2015).
Sandra Freeman, a fine art photographer, approaches cancer from a purely emotional point of view: what it does to our bodies and the treatment thereof through a plethora of images.
"Internal Space" by Puneeta Mittal, oil on panel © 2014. Biomorphic abstraction of life in cancer cells.
Puneeta Mittal is inspired by the microscopic images of cancer cells and creates biomorphic abstractions in ceramics and glaze paintings in oil addressing their complex relationship with nature.