Art and science intersect in Jessica Battes’ exhibition Spontaneous Generation. Her pieces, created primarily from a mix of bronze, cloth, and clay, take on the forms of microscopic organisms and even ceramic vessels. Battes says she draws her ideas from biology books, then steps back and lets ”the forms speak” to her. Through repeating this process, she generates her artwork. Spontaneous Generation brilliantly combines Battes’ interest in biology with her love of art, without sacrificing one discipline to exalt the other.
Battes’ pieces range from large, mounted wall pieces to delicate ceramic vessels, flasks, and decanters. Texture, from rough stone to soft fabric, is emphasized in each work. Hair is weaved through holes in stone in Trisomy Alveoli, creating the impression that the stone is alive and thriving. Some pieces are exhibited underneath glass jars, resembling specimens in a science lab.
A few of the ceramics are colored a gentle aquamarine or teal, but the rest of the exhibit consists of shades of brown, tan, and black. These muted colors are what Battes terms as “subtle,” and they convey the sense of “harvested” organisms which are no longer vibrant. “The forms themselves draw attention,” says Battes. Indeed, bright colors on such unusual shapes would have the potential to be overwhelming.
One of the most visually arresting works in Spontaneous Generation hangs from the ceiling of the gallery. Titled MTBF, it is fabric which ends in a wooden rod and bronze sculpture, both of which are encased in an upturned glass vase. A small timepiece dangles from one of the bronze tentacles. It is made of found objects, except for the bronze section, which Battes cast from wax. “This piece is a giant pendulum, signifying timing and aging,” explains Battes.
These are mere highlights of Spontaneous Generation‘s intriguing display in the UTSA Satellite Space at Blue Star Art Gallery. The exhibition, which runs until May 20th, encourages inquiry and interest. Battes’ work skillfully brings science into the world of art.