Friday, September 1, 2017 (All day) to Friday, September 22, 2017 (All day)

Dr. Haley D. O’Brien (lead curator)

Perceived Contrasts is a month-long exhibition of paleontological and anatomical images presented as fine art, along with featured works by professional artists who draw inspiration from scientific imagery. The major goal of this exhibition is to break down perceptions about scientists and the process of science, beginning with basic misconceptions that scientists are not creative or that critical/analytical thinking does not require creativity. Much of the work scientists do remains enigmatic to the public, rendering it difficult to directly relate to pop-culture expectations of science. Through an avenue of art, we will introduce gallery patrons to scientific concepts, such as gradual anatomical changes through time, and processes, such as how inferences are made about the behavior, ecology, and appearance of extinct animals like dinosaurs. The central theme of “contrast” is a reflection of a broad array of concepts we hope to address, including the perceived contrasts between: science and art; the presumed scientific process and the reality of conducting science; scientists in popular opinion and real life; the traditions and technological advances of science and scientific illustration; the expected obsolescence and enthusiastic renaissance of paleontological and anatomical sciences through new and vibrant imagery; and the literal contrast media that anatomists and paleontologists use to create beautiful, detailed images of their subjects.


By focusing on what motivates scientists, alongside accessible explanations of the science itself, we explicitly intend to break the stereotype that science is unobtainable or somehow apart from the community-at-large. Perceived Contrasts is a unique opportunity for bringing vibrant science to a vibrant community.


The artists.


Current "Contrast" participants include evolutionary biologists and biomedical scientists at Oklahoma State University's Center for Health Sciences (OSU-CHS). This is a preliminary list of researchers interested in contributing works.

Dr. Haley O'Brien is a professor of Neuroscience at OSU-CHS, and has called Tulsa "home" for the past year. Dr. O'Brien studies the evolution of arteries in large game mammals, like pronghorn antelope, elk, buffalo, and deer. She captures bright, tortuous arterial trees and their ghostlike skeletal surroundings using CAT-scanning and computer modeling, creating deeply haunting windows under the flesh of the familiar. Dr. O'Brien has contributed several such images of her research to Living Arts' Champagne and Chocolate in 2015.




Dr. Holly Woodward Ballard is a professor of Anatomical Sciences and Vertebrate Paleontology at OSU-CHS. She uses paper-thin plates of 80-million-year-old bone to discover how dinosaurs lived and grew. When dinosaur bones are highly polished and viewed under a special polarizing microscope lens, they become serpentine, technicolor constellations. The provided image is a section of the bony femur of a Tyrannosaurus rex-relative.


Dr. Paul Gignac is a professor of Anatomical Sciences and Vertebrate Paleontology at OSU-CHS. His research spans centuries of scientific knowledge- combining tissue staining methods from the early 1800's with the latest in X-ray technologies to produce high-contrast sections of snake, bird, and mammal heads that are reminiscent of the most dramatic applications of aquatint intaglio prints. His scientific illustration is currently on display in the gallery of the Royal Society of London.