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Science Center’s Esther Klein Gallery explores the interdependence of art and science

Mesh or snare? Art or science? Human activity or nature? A Mesh is Also a Snare, the new exhibition at the University City Science Center’s Esther Klein Gallery, aims to debunk the notion that these concepts are mutually exclusive.

The show is guest-curated by Amy Hicks and Ephraim Russell of the Philadelphia artist collective Grizzly Grizzly. According to the Science Center, it “explores the myriad ways in which technology connects art and science, to illustrate how neither field precedes the other, but instead acts upon each other to form new cultural and political ideologies.”

Artists have long employed the scientific method to explore hypotheses and been early adopters of technology — think 3D printing or video technology. The show “uses science and technology as a tool, but also as a lens [to] create conceptual content,” explains Russell.

The exhibition’s title is intended to convey the byzantine connections between human endeavor and nature, popular culture and science. A mesh, notes Hicks, can unite diverse elements, or it can be a trap. Building on that oxymoron, the show contains work that is both playful and critical.

Among them is Talia Greene’s Obsolete, a series of portraits depicting outmoded Macintosh computers and scavenger birds, painted in a style reminiscent of Renaissance drawings. Kristen Lucas’s Sole Soaker is an interactive video game that challenges viewers to stay dry as they navigate stairways amid Florida’s rising seas. Josh Weiss’s oil paintings explore entropy.

Building on the Klein Gallery’s mission to use “the creative arts as a platform to explore the relationships between art, science and technology,” Curator Angela McQuillan invited Grizzly Grizzly because “they definitely are known for putting on provocative shows about science and technology.” 2016’s Raw Materialwas a case in point.

After viewing A Mesh is Also a Snare, “I hope that people will have a little bit more of an acute view of their environment,” says Russell, “and realize that science and technology have artistic offshoots that are aesthetic…beautiful and provocative.”

A Mesh is Also a Snare runs through September 30 at the Esther Klein Gallery, 3600 Market Street, Philadelphia.

ELISE VIDER is news editor of Keystone Edge.

WRITER IN RESIDENCE is a partnership between the University City Science Center, Keystone Edge and Flying Kite Media that embeds a reporter on-site at Quorum, the Science Center’s clubhouse for entrepreneurs at 3711 Market Street. The resulting coverage will provide an inside look at the most intriguing companies, discoveries and technological innovations coming out of this essential Philadelphia institution.

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