In scientific formats, the word socius means ‘companion,’ or a way to create a bond or interaction. In The Science Center’s latest exhibit from artist and muralist Rebecca Rustein, this word is examined on a molecular level in reference to COVID-19.
“I think one way this ties into other bodies of my work is how patterns repeat themselves on different scales. It was noticeable cells create little micro societies where they are reaching out to each other and communicating…that’s the whole premise of the show,” Rustein explains. “When looking at the cells, [they] were spreading and creating community [and you see] disease spreading. That’s where all the data came from as well.”
For the past 20 years, Rustein has created art inspired by biology, microbiology and marine science. In just the last six years, Rustein was awarded a public art sculpture project in 2015 at Temple University, and a mural installed in 2019 on the AT&T building on the Schuylkill River. Ultimately the artist notes that she enjoys public art because of its effects beyond gallery walls and the way it can cause the public to take a pause from their busy lives.
“As my work evolves I’m becoming more interested in creating digital and immersive experiences that are multisensory,” Rustein explains.
For her latest work, which is now on display in the Science Center’s Esther Klein Gallery, ‘Socius’, comes from a completed BioArt Residency designed in partnership between the Science Center and the biotech company Integral Molecular, where Rustein spent three months working alongside laboratory scientists. The culmination of this residency is an exhibit of large and small-scale paintings and a multi-media installation.