Community of Microbes

Fri, Oct 25, 2019 7pm - Fri, Nov 22, 2019 7pm

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Community of Microbes poster

See the unseen world. The Community of Microbes exhibition explores populations of bacteria, yeast, and fungi too small to see by the eye alone through an augmented-reality-enabled interactive pop-up. Artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, in partnership with microbiologist Anne Madden, creates a series of eight environments through sculpture and technology that illuminates the secrets behind the success of microorganisms in order to bring their complex, unseen world to new audiences—both in person and online. The exhibition is presented by the Cooper’s Albert Nerken School of Engineering STEM Outreach.

Visitors will discover communities both familiar and mysterious —for instance beer, which is made with a common microbe (yeast) and the bobtail squid which glows blue due to the presence of the Vibrio bacterium.  Everyday environments like the New York City subway are contrasted with overlooked locations like plant roots or the darkest places in the human gut. At the same time the microbe communities presented through this work reflect the beauty of life at one of the smallest levels known, and visitors will learn how the players in these microbe communities interact with each other, and how these ecosystems create positive benefits for people.

Community of Microbes invites curious souls of all ages to explore these unseen worlds and reevaluate how they perceive these minute life forms. The word “microbe” often conjures images of germs, infections, and other scary or unsettling things. But this pop-up was designed to educate visitors to how these tiny organisms that hide in plain sight may in fact be helpful. Geared towards both adult and school aged audiences, educators are invited to register their student group for visits. Technology to interact with the augmented reality components is provided. The student program is designed to explore the science of microbes and the technology used for telling their stories.

This project is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and has received guidance from a diverse scientific advisory board.

Opening reception held on Oct. 25th, 5 – 8 pm in the Colonnade Gallery at 7 E 7th St.

Gallery Hours: 

Monday - Friday 2pm - 7pm, Saturday and Sunday 12pm - 7pm


Student Group visits: 

Monday - Friday 10am - 6pm, Saturday 10am - 5pm

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About the Creators

Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya was born in Atlanta, Georgia and received a B.A. in Neuroscience from Columbia University and an M.F.A. from Pratt Institute. She is an internationally recognized multidisciplinary artist who has been featured by Fast Company, Forbes and The New York Times. She won a TED Residency in 2016, a WeWork Creator's Award in 2017, and was named one of NBC's 26 Emerging Asian American Voices. She held a visiting faculty position at North Carolina State University in 2018, where she debuted Invisible Worlds, an exhibit that featured the work of 6 teams of researchers and designers hailing from NC State’s colleges of science and design. She separately created an exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences called Beyond Curie, which celebrates leading women in STEM that is on display through 2020. Connective Tissue, her first solo art exhibition of collected works, opened this Fall at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art and features large scale murals, interactive sculptures, and 3D printed busts of women in STEM.

Anne Madden, Ph.D,. is currently Technology Founder and Chief Science Officer at the food technology company Lachancea LLC. Dr. Madden received her Ph.D. in biology from Tufts University, and her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and completed postdoctoral fellowships with Noah Fierer (University of Colorado) and Rob Dunn (North Carolina State University). She has held many prestigious fellowships, including an Alfred P. Sloan Microbiology of the Built Environment Postdoctoral Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, a Tufts Institute of the Environment Fellowship, and an American Philosophical Society Lewis and Clark Fellowship. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi (the international research society), and a brain trust member of the Helena Group Foundation.

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