by George and Mary Ann Clark
Art is not an end in itself, but a means of addressing humanity. Modest Petrovich Moussorgsky (1839-1881)

...what every true artist wants, really wants, is to be paid. Terry Pratchett, 1995 (Soul Music)

George and Mary Ann Clark make up a father-daughter partnership that combines the worlds of art and science in a photographic medium.  Not that one serves as the artist and the other the scientist, but that both reach beyond their nominal professions into the opposite realms.  To make this even more unusual, the camera behind their photography is one of the most expensive on earth, a $250,000 scanning electron microscope, or SEM.

These are a little too much for an artist's pocketbook, so they rent time on the same instrument used at other times by George for his scientific research.  George, a college professor in his ‘day job’, has used SEMs since they became commercially available in the mid-1960s, and operates the instruments himself rather than direct a technician.  Although he is quite satisfied with the scientific results from his work, he has long regretted the lack of opportunity for exploring its artistic potential as well.

Mary Ann is a professional artist, holding a Master of Fine Arts degree, and specializes in ceramics with a strong element of fantasy.  She had once considered a career in science, and herself learned to operate the SEM while still in high school.  She even has her undergraduate degree in a scientific field, astronomy, but eventually decided to follow her artistic side.  This has brought her a degree of success and much satisfaction, including a number of awards.  Still, she retains an interest in science, as can be seen by her naming and classifying her ‘creature teapots’ as if they were genera and species of ‘wild’ cousins of the ‘domesticated’ teapots found in many homes.

Somehow, the interest of George in art, and of Mary Ann in science, led to the idea of working with SEM images and presenting them as the works of art they are.   Although many of their images are striking enough in simple ‘black and white’, both George and Mary Ann use various computer techniques to add variations in color, filtration, and reflections, enhancing the elements of fantasy in their compositions.  Come and see them!

Artists' Bio

Simply stated, their goals are to escort the viewer into the microscopic world---and sometimes beyond---to show that art and fantasy is part of nature at every level.  Their work ranges from the stark, ‘black and white’ world that the electron microscope displays, to a world of fantasy brought to life through color enhancements of such images, and even to kaleidoscopic visions seen through their reflections and transformations.  All these images, however, have at their hearts true glimpses of nature, of tiny entities and constructs, not so much beneath our notice as beyond our unaided vision.   Thomas Browne, in 1642, may have said it best: “…for nature is the art of God.”

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Scanning Electron Microscope


Artists' Goals