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Society: Art, science team up at Taubman Institute

Chuck Bennett

There’s something commandingly intriguing about mixing art and science. And the folks at the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan are determined to explore the allure. Celebrating its third annual Art+Science project, the institute hosted a talk featuring a pair of the eminent artists and physician-researchers collaborating on the innovative fundraiser.

The Art+Science project connects the institute’s Taubman Scholars — members of the U-M Medical School faculty — with leading contemporary artists, to explore the commonalities in their arenas of creativity and discovery. The artists then go on to produce works of art inspired by the lifesaving medical research of their Taubman Scholar partner, and the works are auctioned to fund more medical research grants through the institute.

Wednesday’s lecture featuring Eva Feldman, a medical doctor and Ph.D., and Cranbrook Artist-in-Residence Beverly Fishman was the first preview lecture. Nearly 100 people attended the free informal talk and reception held at the Cranbrook Art Museum, where Feldman and Fishman discussed what inspired them to pursue their respective fields in art and science, and what they learned about each other’s methods.

“I’ve long had medical themes in my work, particularly in pharmaceutical imagery,” said Fishman. “I’ve found a great deal of beauty in the microscopic cell images from Feldman’s research into new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Fishman based the artwork she is creating for the Taubman Institute fundraiser on a microscopic image of neurons from Feldman’s lab. Feldman noted that art and science have many commonalities and she explained how artworks sometimes are shown to research subjects to help researchers better understand what stimulates brain activity.

The duo discussed their work and the insights they have gained through meetings at the laboratory and studio. Andrew Blauvelt, director of the Cranbrook Art Museum, moderated the discussion. The informal talk segued into a reception and “sneak peek” of items that will be up for bidding at the gala Evening of Art+Science, which will take place April 21 at MOCAD in Detroit.

A similar lecture will be held March 31 in Ann Arbor at the U-M Museum of Art, featuring the artist/scientist pair of Allie McGhee and Dr. Valerie Opipari, head of pediatrics at the U-M health system.

Chuck Bennett is the creator of The Social Metro. Visit