The Microbiome Art Project is a significant art+science collaboration between OSU’s research community and “The Arts Center | Corvallis”. The project focuses on microbial systems that affect human health, biodiversity of animal species, and air, earth and water quality. This exhibition asks both artists and researchers, How Can We See the Unseen? Microbiology tries to measure, visualize and understand complex microscopic systems in the same way artists seek understanding for life’s many questions. Through this exhibit, the arts will document and interpret complex research concepts and bring greater understanding for artists and the public, as well as offer a unique perspective to the scientific community.

The exhibition is scheduled for Apr 13 -May 27, 2017 and will include invited and juried visual artists, musicians and poets. We plan to host several events, including a performance of music and poetry created in response to the theme and an invited speaker. We will also produce a catalog and video of work and reflections on the interconnectedness of art and science that will expand the audience of this project. 

For more information on 

  1. The show and people involved:  Microbiome Exhibits BLOG from the “The Arts Center|Corvallis”.
  2. The show's background, visit “The Arts Center|Corvallis” Link to news blast video. 
  3. Examples of other science-art collaborations:  Microbiome Websites
  4. Artwork from Kidder Hall Art Exhibit.

To find out more about microbiology research or art-research collaborations, contact Dr. Jerri Bartholomew or Wei Wei.

Invited Artists


Jerri Bartholomew:  As a professor in the microbiology department I study disease in salmon, but I am also a glass artist.  Working on the Microbiome Show has been stimulating both artistically and scientifically.  I am looking forward to the experiments that will take place over the next few months, testing new processes, and layering and combining imagery to bring my science to life for this audience.


Michael Boonstra:  Michael received his BFA from the University of Michigan and his MFA from the U. of Oregon.  He currently teaches at OSU.  Artist Statement:  My work explores our perception of landscape, time, place, and scale.  Many of my recent projects involve time sensitive site-based elements that continue into my studio practice.  This allows for both a direct and indirect exploration of place and space through a process that continually shifts between drawing, photography, installation, and sculpture.

Amanda SalovCurrently a studio artist in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, she received her BFA from the U. of Wisconsin and her MFA from the U. of Missouri. She was an instructor at the  U. of Arkansas from 2007-11 and has shown her work throughout the U.S. She was named NCECA emerging artist and a recipient of an Oregon Arts Commission grant in 2013, and 2016.  She will present a solo show during the 2017 NCECA in Portland, Oregon. Artist's Statement:  Human beings are ephemeral; the relationships that we have are ever changing and the environments that we occupy  are temporal and transitory.  Tangible, beautiful events pass even when we are not aware.  As an artist I focus contemplation and awareness on these fleeting moments.


Wendy Yoder:   Artist Statement: My love and passion has been in textiles and contemporary stitching for the past 23 years.  Visual thought turned into stitches one mark at a time.  A way of self expression that is not like our Grandmothers handi work.  The work for the Microbiome Project will be my impressions in stitch - what a great adventure.



Artist Workshops

The Department of Microbiology has organized several opportunities for artists to learn more about the science of microbiology.  The first workshop was held at the John L. Fryer Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory, and artists heard from researchers and graduate students about investigations into aquatic microbiomes. They had the opportunity to culture organisms from different water sources and to look at this life more intimately under the microscope.  Culture Exercise:  participants were provided nutrient agar plates to culture microbes from soil, water and themselves. The three subsequent workshops were held in the microbiology teaching laboratory in Nash Hall.  Artists heard talks by microbiology graduate students and postdoctoral researchers about microbes that inhabit aquatic and land environments, the air and our own bodies.  They also toured working laboratories, and explored microbiomes that they had cultured themselves and painted with bacteria. Here are some Workshop Photos .

Participants were provided nutrient agar plates to culture microbes from soil, water, and themselves.  Bacteria produce a variety of pigments, and artists "painted" with a palette of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (blue-green), Pseudomonas aureofaciens (orange), Serratia marcescens (red), Micrococcus luteus (yellow), Staphylococcus aureus (pale yellow), and Bacillus subtilis (white).  Painting and Culture Exercise Photos


As part of the collaboration with The Corvallis Arts Center on the Microbiome: Seeing the Unseen, graduate students from the department are participating in a series of outreach activities with local elementary schools. Between October 2106 and May 2017, graduate students will give microbiology lessons and lead hands on demos for over 220 students in local elementary schools. The students will then work with artists from Art Center|Corvallis to take what they’ve learned about the science of microbiology and create artwork reflecting their interpretations of the microbial world. The students’ artwork will be included as part of the final art exhibit at the Art Center|Corvallis.



Several laboratories in the Department of Microbiology are hosting, with the aim of interpreting our discoveries and engaging a broader audience in our research. 

Karl Payne:  A senior in Engineering and Fine Arts, Karl is working in the Bartholomew Lab on a sculpture of the Willamette River that will find its home in the west patio of Nash Hall.  This metal and glass sculpture is a collaboration with Dr. Jerri Bartholomew and the welding program at LBCC.  Its design was influenced by discussions with scientists that have worked on the river.                    



Brianna Leahy: is an illustrator and sculptor living in the Willamette Valley.  She earned her BFA from California State Univeristy, Fullerton with an emphasis in entertainment art and animation.  Her artwork is fueled by her appreciation and respect for nature and all its living things.  Through her artwork, she hopes to evoke the joy of discovery through observation.  Brianna is currently working with the Vega-Thurber Laboratory to create scientific illustrations for textbook and journal publications.  She is also collaborating with the lab to create a comic series for web-based outreach.  Their goal is to inform and inspire children and youth to get into science! 



Samm Newton:  is an M.S. candidate in OSU's new Environmental Arts and Humanities Graduate Program.  She is currently spending time in Dr. Steve Giovannoni's lab in the Microbiology Department examining microbial communities and how the metabolic processes of bacteria contribute to global biogeochemical cycles.  A collection of paintings, prose, poetry and photography inspired by ocean microbiomes will be completed in December 2016.