Bridging the Gap Between Art and Science at New England Biolabs 

Students from Solstice Day School and Express Yourself staff took a trip to New England Biolabs (NEB) to gather a deeper understanding of the connection between art and science. 

The group toured the NEB facility led by Dr. Lindsey Cantin Research Scientist at NEB. Senior Scientist Dr. Mehmet Berkmen lectured on the importance of bacteria and how using the universal language of art can bring the invisible to the visible.   

Microbes were the first living things to inhabit this planet and have shaped every aspect of our ecosystems for the past 4 billion years. Representing the largest biomass and the most biodiversity, they are essential for recycling key elements and for human health. They are everywhere and all over our bodies, yet are invisible to our eyes. The students engaged in a deeper understanding and increased their awareness of the microbial communities in and around us by creating some bacteria art. 

Using agar, a gelatinous-like substance in a filled petri dish as a canvas, students spread the microbes around like paint and allowed them to grow and create art. Unlike most forms of art, the ‘paint’ is alive, and will live, breathe and grow over time, often in unforeseeable ways. What do bacteria and the youth of Express Yourself have in common? They’re both natural artists.