YLEM blog A listing of events and news of YLEM and its members

October 19, 2007

Patterns SIG: Artist’s Statement about “Membranes” Painting

Filed under: Patterns in Nature — Artsci Muse @ 11:52 am

Every cell in every living organism is enclosed in a membrane. Every human body is encased in a membrane — our skin. Membranes define what is inside and what is outside. Even our psyches and societies have membranes, habits of thought and social customs defining “us” as different from “them.” Without membranes there would be only one undifferentiated “soup” of existence. But, membranes also allow movement between inside and outside, making sharing and growth possible. Thus the concept of “I” or “me” can expand as we mature and learn about others, while still retaining a sense of who we are: individual human (not cat or fish), family member (a Smith rather than the Jones next door), national citizen (American rather than Chinese), to name just a few categories. And all the while, at smallest unit of biological life, there is no escaping the containment of membranes, the existence of an “it.”

On the purely chemical-biological level, every cell membrane is made of two layers of molecules called phospholipids. The “phospho” part of the molecule (represented by a dot) is attracted to the water that is both inside and outside the cell; the “lipid” part (shown as a little tail) repels water and is stays in the space between the two phospho layers. There are proteins embedded in the membrane through which food and minerals pass in and waste products out. Within the cell there are “organelles” also made up of the same phospholipid membranes — folded, pleated and balloon-like — where the business of maintaining life is carried on: food is metabolized into energy, cell repair work is done, wastes are carried away.

This painting began with a cell in the upper left. The large circular form metamorphosed into the head of the entire human body with hands and a large opening running from mouth to anus. Out of the mouth comes breath and words, which take on a life of their own. Soon we are in the realm of mystery: a baby waiting to be born, sheltered under the umbrella-like leaves of a begonia plant. Squiggles of color represent the almost countless numbers of molecules – proteins, enzymes, carbohydrates, amino acids, fats and minerals — that come together to dance the intricate and interconnected dance of life .”

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress