Sunday, September 20, 2015

Art and Science: Encaustic and Audiology



I have been waiting a long time....I am so thankful for this moment. 


Several years ago I was honored to be asked to collaborate with Dr. Kelly Tremblay, Professor in the Dept. of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington and Dr. Robert Burkard, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Rehabilitation Science at the University of Buffalo to produce the cover art for this textbook they were working on. It grew to become a three part series which includes an exceptional selection of world-renowned scientists and experts in audiology, auditory neuroscience, and biology as contributing authors. I now have my own copy and I am overflowing with gratitude. There is nothing quite like linking my love for art and science in this way....with such inspirational and generous people.

Translational Perspectives in Auditory Neuroscience


Book 1  Normal Aspects of Hearing
Book 2  Hearing Across the Life Span - Assessment and Disorders
Book 3  Special Topics


by Kelly L. Tremblay, PHD, CCC-A
Robert F. Burkard, PHD, CCC-A
Plural Publishing, San Diego, USA


Cover Art by Kristin Swenson-Lintault

Cover art by Kristin Swenson-Lintault





The following is generously written before the Introduction:

ABOUT THE COVER AND THE ARTIST 
The cover art starts with an interesting story that highlights the power of perspective. Perspective is everything. When the first editor saw the image of "Ripple" (back book cover), she clearly saw the artist's depiction of hair cells. But when the artist turned it upright (as it was intended to be viewed) she said, "no" they are actually ripples and roots representing the changes a newborn baby brings to life.  Clearly we saw the image from different perspectives, each influenced by our own experiences. And like science, we appreciated the art form and we learned from it. The author shared images and knowledge about the science of hair cells, which the artist unknowingly illustrated so well.  In turn the artist taught the scientist about encaustic painting.  
The art form used in the cover artwork is called encaustic painting. Encaustic painting is an ancient art form notably used in the Fayum mummy portraits from Egypt around 100 to 300 AD.  The form in and of itself is relevant to our mission.  It involves heating beeswax to which colored pigments are added. Because wax  is used as the pigment binder, other materials can be encased or collaged into the surface, or layered, using the encaustic medium to adhere it to the surface.  Our front cover was created using multiple layers of wax, each composed of figures and concepts that appear throughout the textbook. When viewed as a whole, each micro element contributes to the more macro understanding of human communication. 
The artist, Kristin Swenson-Lintault, earned her MFA in fiber/textiles in 1996 and her BA in Fine Art/Drawing in 1993.  She has studied painting at Hospitalfield House, a 13th century studio art center in Arbroath, Scotland, as well as traditional natural dye and indigo textile dyeing, washi hand papermaking, and wood-fired ceramics in Japan and South Korea. Her paintings have been exhibited nationally and in Nakajo, Japan. She has always been inspired to create work that deals with extracting the essence of some aspect of nature with an emphasis on abstraction, color, surface, and layering.  Her current work is part of an ongoing series examining origins, connections, and lifelines.  She teaches mixed media encaustic painting workshops at her studio in Seattle, Washington.  More information can be found at www.ksl-studio.blogspot.com.


Original work titled "Ripple" by Kristin Swenson-Lintault
Encaustic and Mixed Media on panel 2007
(in the collection of Dr. Kelly Tremblay)

Figure 4-18   Page 85
Examples of hair cells in various stages of degeneration after being damaged by acoustic trauma

The imagery in the painting "Ripple" was the inspiration that began the collaborative process.

Dr. Kelly Tremblay was moved by this painting in a way that from my point of view is the perfect example of the potential and importance of how art and science can interconnect. I had been making many paintings from the point of view of the interior of the body and was studying microscopic images in my research at the time. Tremblay is known as one of the most valued contributors in the field of audiology and the importance of the inner ear hair cells (stereocilia) to her decades of research and interest in auditory rehabilitation became the linking concept for our work together. 

The back cover painting is printed from a different perspective/angle intentionally to highlight the reference to the structure of stereocilia inside the cochlea of the inner ear. The image additionally references sensory hair cells that have clearly been damaged, bent or broken leading to permanent hearing loss. 

Original work titled "Translational Perspectives" by Kristin Swenson-Lintault
Encaustic and Mixed Media on panel
(in the collection of Dr. Kelly Tremblay)

This painting "Translational Perspectives" was created during the time the book was being written. The book title had already been determined. I was building, painting, layering, fusing, and painting some more over a period of many months. I had studio visits with both Dr. Tremblay and Dr. Burkard here at my Seattle studio. What a pleasure it was to learn about their work and do my best to communicate though my personal vision for a project that was in process and in the early stages. 

This blog post is small piece of my perspective but it is also a response to a book review I discovered that hoped for commentary from me. 

Anthony T. Cacace, Communication Sciences & Disorders, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI wrote a long book review in The International Journal of Audiology in 2014. Here is just a small bit. I am grateful for his time to include words about the cover art.
"When initially encountering the first book in this series, one is impressed with the provocative artwork on the front and back covers.  The title of the painting on the front cover, "Translational Perspectives" also seems to have inspired the title of the book, although we never get any commentary or perspective from the artist (Kristin Swenson-Lintault) why this title was used and/or why this specific symbolism was chosen.  The term 'translational' is also of interest because it can have different meanings to people for whom this book is intended.  Perhaps we can speculate that the intent of the artist is to have people use their imagination with respect to the underlying meaning; the science audience is different and would probably have a more objective viewpoint."


Behind the Scenes at KSL Studio
Early stages of "Translational Perspectives" 
At this stage....."Ripple" had already been exhibited in three exhibitions. First at a juried show at Gallery Up in Rock Hill S.C. Then again in Seattle for two solo shows I did called "Anchorage" in 2008 and another show titled "Inside Out" in 2010.  As I worked on this new painting I gathered references from my own past work as well as audiology. 









screenprinting on handmade paper
acrylic on canvas

ink drawing on paper