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BF D A Dialogue About Our Ecosystems - The B.P. Oil Disaster

REBECCA ALSTON BIO FORMS SERIES Exploring our Natural Habitats and Human Impact on the Environment

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Copyright © September, 2011 Rebecca Alston




ebecca Alston’s evolution as an artist may seem radical, but has been consistent throughout with her interest in extra-artistic – notably scientific – issues. Hers is a restless, inquisitive sensibility, eager to understand the universe from all vantages, from the compilation of mathematical data to the aesthetic appreciation of natural form. If artists have marveled throughout history at natural beauty, Alston finds new beauty in nature by following in the footsteps of scientific inquiry; for her, the telescope and the microscope, the data graph and the spectral scale are no less artistic tools than are the pencil and the paintbrush. Alston’s recent shift in scientific focus, from physics to biology, has yielded the ongoing “Bio Forms” series. This series has itself shifted focus, from the poetry of micro-macrocosmic relationships to the visual metaphor of ecosystemic sustenance. As she turns her attention to this vital and continually newsworthy subject, logically enough, Alston’s work takes on social and political resonance. Most recently, the Mississippi Delta native found herself responding on a personal level to geo-ecological events with the oil-leak disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The message in Alston’s current work, however, is that a disruption in the ecosystem hits everyone at home. Peter Frank August 2011


BF D Eco Oil 2011

Mixed Media Drawing 13” x 23” 33.02 x 58.42 cm



BF D Bio Language I 2010

Drawing 12” x 16” 30.48 x 40.64 cm


ebecca Alston is currently at work on “Bio Forms,” a series of abstract mixed media works. To date the “Bio Forms” have been done primarily on paper, but Alston is realizing an increasing number on canvas. The drawings range in size from 6 Inches square to 50 x 60 inches; the canvases, of course, tend to be larger. As the series’ title indicates, the subject matter of “Bio Forms” concerns biological forms and their natural habitats. Deeply interested in the biological sciences and ecological concerns, Alston has conducted extensive aesthetic research into biological microcosms, their behavior, and the relationships they maintain with their habitats, oceanic and otherwise. Alston has constructed a visual language based upon this information as the formal foundation for the “Bio Forms.” The drawing Bio Language embodies Alston’s understanding of biological movement in the ocean. This movement exhibits a regular pattern, as seen in Undercurrent.



BF D Undercurrent 2010

Drawing 14� x 20� 35.56 x 50.8 cm


s Undercurrent implies, water currents can carry oil and pollutants as well as nutrients extreme distances. The resulting patterns of nourishment and toxicity can sustain or destroy habitats, ultimately having a widespread impact on human as well as marine culture.




eepage, a mixed-media drawing, translates ecological ruin into emotional darkness -- the darkness experienced by the people of the American Gulf Coast when their environment was flooded with oil from a collapsed, out-of-control British Petroleum off-shore rig. The disaster resulted in large part from a pattern of negligence on BP’s part, especially in the face of lax American regulation. The ecological disaster in spring 2010 took a toll on wildlife and even human life and destroyed parts of the region’s delicate ecosystem(s). The darkness deepened when BP sought to dissipate the oil by dumping chemicals into the ocean, chemicals that could themselves prove toxic. The BP disaster brought local fishing industries to a standstill, and they have been struggling to recover since. As well, questions remain about future safety and even about lingering poison. After all, the oil had rolled for weeks into the wetlands and onto the beaches. In the face of BP’s defensive cover-up, will we ever know exactly how much oil dumped into our Gulf? How much will this alter, if not destroy, the ecosystem that sustains us?

BF D Seepage 2011

Mixed Media Drawing 25” x 20.5” 41.28 x 30.48 cm

BP may have corrected its PR problem and liability issues, but in the end it can’t bring back the ecosystems it destroyed, nor can it fully restore the livelihood of the communities in that region. As a native and sometime resident of the Gulf Coast, I share directly in the dark emotions expressed In Seepage. Rebecca Alston


“UNKNOWN TERRITORIES” Thoughts from Rebecca Alston’s Notebook


oday many researchers view the ocean as unknown territory, an environment to explore and a place to establish a base of knowledge. However, beyond this search for knowledge, this quest to understand and gain new knowledge, the basis of survival and our existence as a species and as individuals underlies all consciousness. Mysticism bridges bodies of knowledge and fills gaps when intellectual comprehension is exceeded. When one experiences the frailness and vulnerability of existence when traveling through evolution and battling the hazards of national, political, and medical / physical disasters… Rebecca Alston

BF D Alien Object 2010

Mixed Media Drawing 43” X 40” 109.22 X 101.6 cm



ebecca Alston’s mixed media drawings and paintings in “Bio Forms” explore a new realm of significant inquiry. Alston’s Bio Forms explores the impact that modern day viruses and their environments have on the individual physical being from a microscopic level, which aesthetically parallels to a macroscopic level incorporating phenomena found within the universe. The links are intuitive, but the bio visual forms taken in by scientists and the images taken by cosmologists are very similar. Images found on a microscopic level, such as the design of viruses, are similar in nature but contrast in scale to the cosmic images captured by Cosmologists, such as the Crab Nebula from the Hubble Space Telescope as referenced in John D. Barrow’s “Cosmic Imagery: Key Images in the History of Science.” Rebecca Alston’s “Bio Forms” may have very subtle reference to geometric vocabulary that is explored in Alston’s prior work, which employs simplified whole geometric forms. Prior geometric complexities are diverted as Bio Forms takes on exploratory mixed forms that reference decay through viral compositions. Pieces within the Bio Forms series elucidate a vigorous microcosm that breathes from the canvas. In observing Alston’s work, one will notice painting and drawing techniques have merged into a cohesive expression. -Rebecca Alston and Peter Frank Writing and Editing Contributions by Brandon Bishop


BF D Between Mind and Fossil • Can Traces of DNA Be Found?

Mixed Media 14” x 29” 35.6 X 73.7 cm


BF D A Dialogue About Our Ecosystems - The B.P. Oil Disaster Detail

Rebecca Alston Bio Forms Brochure  
Rebecca Alston Bio Forms Brochure  

Rebecca Alston Bio Form series