Fusion of art and science: Impressions of my first solo art exhibition

by Janice Nigro

I have adventures, but I don’t think they are anything to really boast about today. With the Internet and diverse forms of modern day transport, it’s easy to get out.

But making adventures happen when you are home takes a different kind of effort.

It helps that I now live only about 500 steps away from the Pacific Ocean. It’s a wilderness, right in the middle of this urban expanse we call Los Angeles. Sunsets compare to the best I have viewed from remote islands, and animals unique to the coast are roaming the beaches.

I would probably be out in the water every day were it not for the refreshing temperature of the ocean. So since I landed in Los Angeles, I have made art the focus of my adventures.

It started innocently enough. A casual question at the local farmers’ market and I was in. You start to get ideas and then one bold move enables you to make the next bold move. Suddenly you have a solo exhibition at a local coffee house.

I am in Southern California, and when I want to act big, I say my art has premiered in Los Angeles. The reality is that my show is in a small beach community outside of Los Angeles. Technically though we are part of the community as Hermosa Beach is in Los Angeles county.

However I want to look at it, I have discovered that my neighbors in this so-called cocoon of a community make-up a group of some seriously talented artists. Some work out of their garages, some are psychologists, some were scientists or engineers in their previous lives. And there my art is, hanging next to their work.

But this month, my work shines alone.

I have a series of underwater photographs hanging in a local coffee house for a month. It’s an honor because the venue is so popular with local artists, that it took over a year for my show to come up.

I have been preparing for the solo exhibition for over a month. Really for years. It’s a collection of underwater photographs that I call “That’s an animal?” Diving is like taking a step back in prehistoric time, and I am forced to go back to the dictionary for the definition of an animal when I look at the creatures in my photographs.

I forget to tell people that we are often looking at more than one animal in many of the photographs. The beloved clownfish lives in an anemone. Although the thematic focus of a photograph might be the fish, part of the beauty of the image is the anemone. It’s the same with any animal trapped within the polyps of some kind of coral or even a nudibranch on a creature as simple as a sponge.

I chose the right photographs and the right titles. But my first lesson from the experience is that some of the prints should be even bigger. On a practical level, they do not hide the remnants of the history of art that has been covering the walls of the coffee house over so much time. And well bigger somehow denotes grander which is what I feel underwater.

The exhibition also looks a little like a science project. I can’t seem to escape it. Scuba diving and underwater photography are perhaps just another version of exploring my natural and physical world as I do in my career as a scientist. The font I chose for the titles even somehow reminds me of placards in museums from a long time ago.

The thing is none of it is really wrong. And sometimes that is what the critics forget. Putting your art up on a wall in public (or in a booth at a festival) is revealing something about yourself. What might be important or beautiful to you. It somehow tells something personal about you.

One person I recently spoke with about my photographs said, “Your photographs are unique because you take pictures of things no one else probably bothers to look at.”

Yup, that was kind of my approach in science too.

©Janice Marie Nigro/janikiInk.com


That’s an animal?

July 2 to July 29, 2017

Java Man Coffee House and Dessert Bar 157 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach CA


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