Fine Art

Holly Sumner

Radiolarian Holly Sumner is a New York artist who has been captivated by the drawings of Ernst Haeckel and has worked to couple form with functionality in her images.  Below is a short statement from the artist herself.  Her work on planktonic forms – notably radiolarians and siphonophores - you can find in the Gallery.  Her web page contains her other work and curriculum vitae.

Holly Sumner:  my art and inspiration:  I became interested in plankton while browsing the scientific libraries in Woods Hole.  I am drawn to the beauty of the abstract form and fascinated by the portrayal of the data.  I am interested in the classifications, the ordering and organization of the groups and gleaning a character, personality, individuality from the organism that will resonate with my paintings and may form a personal connection to the viewer.  In my studio, the paintings and drawings develop these traits.  When the radiolaria were lining the walls of my studio I saw them as my protective radiolarian samurai.  The siphonophores are leisurely, elegant, gentle and refined.  The medusae are iconic and private.


My drawings layer a living organism, a microscopic radiolaria, on a background diagram of a scientific program through which its environment is analyzed and responded to.

The scale of the organism is altered to allow the viewer to see something not normally visible to the naked eye.  The graphic data also represents something that is not visible – the biochemical software and hard wiring in the cell.  The combination hopefully reveals a somewhat romantic appeal toward a reconciliation of the two opposing, yet interrelated forms of understanding and representing the world and appreciating a beauty that we abstractly sense rather than see.

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