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Art and Science Converge in the Deep Sea

March 14, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Free and open to the public.

Lily Simonson, Painter
Peter R. Girguis, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
Lily Simonson and Peter Girguis exemplify the long tradition of artists and scientists working in tandem to explore new worlds—in their case, the magnificent deep sea. Simonson will discuss how the immersive, glowing canvases in her current exhibition at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Lily Simonson: Painting the Deep, have been shaped by collaborations with scientists—whether exploring the depths of the ocean in a submersible or scuba diving beneath Antarctic sea ice. Girguis will reveal how working at sea with an artist has shaped his research and enabled him to see familiar organisms and environments in new ways.

Lily Simonson works in tandem with researchers at remote field sites to create paintings of extraordinary organisms and extreme environments—from the deep sea to Antarctica. Enveloping viewers in dramatic, atmospheric scenes, her work evokes the immersive experience of exploration. Simonson has embedded as an artist-at-sea on six oceanographic expeditions aboard the E/V Nautilus and R/Vs Melville and Atlantis. Simonson’s paintings have been exhibited throughout the U.S. and Europe and her work has appeared in a range of media outlets, including Interview Magazine, MTV, Atlas Obscura, Pacific Standard, the Los Angeles Times, and LA Weekly. Simonson holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and a M.F.A. in Painting from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has taught painting and drawing at Cal Poly Pomona and the University of California, Berkeley.
Her current solo exhibition Lily Simonson: Painting the Deep is on view at the Harvard Museum of Natural History through June 30, 2019.

Peter Girguis works at the crossroads of microbial ecology, physiology, and biogeochemistry. He uses molecular biology, as well as physiological and geochemical techniques to examine the relationship between microbial diversity/physiology and biogeochemical cycles. Due to the limitations of existing in situ measurement and incubation technologies, he and his lab have developed novel instruments and samplers that enable them to better study microbial-geochemical relationships. This includes high-pressure systems to mimic natural environments, geochemical sensors, microbial fuel cells as experimental apparatus and power sources, and preservation technologies. He holds a B.Sc. from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Lecture. Free event parking at the 52 Oxford Street Garage.
Presented by the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

This event will be livestreamed on the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture Facebook page. A recording of this program will be available on the HMSC Lecture Videos page approximately three weeks after the lecture.


March 14, 2019
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Free and open to the public.
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Harvard Museum of Natural History
(617) 495-3045


Geological Lecture Hall
24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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