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Biology and Society joins with Pyracantha Press in the New American University

August 17, 2015

A collaboration that took a year and taught us so much.

On May 4, 2015, professor in ASU’s Herberger Institute School of Art, John Risseeuw, presented ASU president Michael Crow with a 16”x13” handmade print. The print was the product of a year long collaboration between Risseeuw and CBS director, professor Jane Maienschein.

In the spring of 2014, Risseeuw approached Maienschein about participating in an innovative project that would result in a visual representation of Maienschein’s academic field. The collaboration spoke to ASU’s mission to increase interdisciplinarity as it bridged the art and printmaking disciplines, the life sciences, and the humanities. Maienschein was asked to select a student to collaborate on the project, and chose Jennifer Craer, whose work at the intersection of the humanities and medicine, along with her experience with the creative arts, lent itself to the project.

Maienschein and Craer developed the idea to capture the complexities of the Center for Biology and Society by finding words that people within CBS believe represent “biology” and “society”. Craer and J.J. LaTourelle collected suggestions from undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty within the Center.

Taking the crowdsourcing of the project one step further, Maienschein and Craer planned to use donated lab coats and medical scrubs, including those from former CBS students who are now physicians, Dr. Douglas Lakin and Dr. Farshad Marvasti, as the basis for the paper that Risseeuw’s team would create.

Faculty members, staff and students from CBS, including: Aireona Raschke, Bianca Zietal, Yawen Zou, Nevada Wagoner, Elizabeth Barnes, Melanie Sturm, Jessica Ranney, Andrea Cottrell, Federica Turriziani Colonna, Christopher Rojas, Ernest End, Ken Aiello, Rachel Gur-Arie, and Kate MacCord, donated time and materials for the paper.

Risseeuw’s team, including grad students Monica Garcia, Colleen Donohoe, Estrella Payton, and Kate Horvat, helped Risseeuw with the hard work of making the paper in the Pyracantha Press’s lab space. The paper product resulted in blue fibers from the scrubs and white fibers from the lab coats,  mixed with a lovely yellow-brown cotton that was genetically part of a limited collection of naturally colored heritage fibers that Risseeuw contributed.

Risseeuw then met with Maienschein and Craer to take the words collected from the CBS community and create a design reflecting the values and messages of the team.  

Risseeuw carried out the printing process in March and April of 2015, creating a numbered edition of 50, two Archival Impressions for the archives of the Press, and 16 artist proof copies (those that are slightly different from the edition but still acceptable for display). On May 1, Risseeuw, Maienschein, and Craer signed copies.

The Pyracantha Press will add the print to its list of publications available for purchase by individuals and institutions like Special Collections libraries.

More information:
Jane Maienschein

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