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The Art of Science and Spirit

1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC
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Section Time
Opening Remarks 0:00 –11:58
Rosamond Purcell 11:59 – 29:59
Michael Sappol 30:00 – 43:17
Alan Hirsh 43:18 – 57:23
Mark Sprinkle 57:24 – 1:10:26
Discussion 1:10:27 – 1:23:37
Audience Q&A 1:23:38 – 1:39:56


Science, religion, spirituality and art often intersect. Artists find inspiration from the natural world, religions draw on art and nature to convey theological ideas, and science frequently uses art to render abstract concepts tangible. Sometimes these modes of engaging with the world combine at once, such as when mathematical equations or the patterns found in nature become elegant works of art. At this year's annual holiday lecture, our speakers will explore art as a communication portal between science and religion or spirituality. Each speaker will briefly introduce their own work at this interface and then DoSER director Jennifer Wiseman will moderate a discussion among the panelists and with the audience. 


Opening Remarks

Rush Holt, AAAS Chief Executive Officer and Executive Publisher, Science

Jennifer Wiseman, Director AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion


Allen Hirsh — is CEO of Cryobiophysica, Inc. and owner of The Abstract Gardener. He was raised by Jewish chicken farmers turned landscapers. This stimulated an early appreciation of nature and science. He majored in biology at Caltech, but left an uncompleted PhD in neurophysiology at Columbia University. He earned a PhD from The University Of Maryland at College Park, where he studied freezing stress in plants. He has also worked on freezing stress in human blood cells, the thermodynamic stability of proteins, and co-invented a practical wide range pH gradient chromatography that he markets. He recently created his own form of mathematical art as an orthogonal career, in the process patenting a new way to retain resolution in expanded images. 

Rosamond Purcell — is a photographer "who has made a career of diving into natural-history collections and surfacing with unforgettable images"(National Geographic magazine). She is the spirit behind the recreation of the seventeenth century museum of  Ole Worm  (permanent installation in the Natural History Museum, Copenhagen) and her studio holds thousands of found ruined objects (as described in OWLS HEAD, On the Nature of Lost Things). Other books include Dice (with Ricky Jay), Egg & Nest (from Western Foundation Vertebrate Zoology) and Finders Keepers, Eight Collectors with the late paleontologist and evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould.

Michael Sappol — is a historian/scholar-in-residence at the National Library of Medicine. His work focuses on the history of anatomy, death, and the visual culture of medicine in illustration, motion pictures and exhibition. He is the author of A Traffic of Dead Bodies (2002) and Dream Anatomy (2006), and editor of A Cultural History of the Human Body in the Age of Empire (2010) and Hidden Treasure (2012). His new book, How to Get Modern With Scientific Illustration, will be published by University of Minnesota Press in 2016. 

Mark Sprinkle — is an artist, craftsman, writer, and curator based in Richmond, Virginia. A phi beta kappa graduate of Georgetown University, his Ph.D. from the College of William & Mary focused on the sociology and phenomenology of art in local and domestic environments. From 2009-2012 he was Senior Fellow, Arts and Humanities and then Senior Editor at BioLogos, writing and editing work that addressed the intersection of science and Christian belief in a wide range of disciplines from poetry to cosmology. He now convenes conversations on community, creativity and faith as Director of Arts and Cultural Engagement for Third Church, Richmond.

5:30 pm - Introductions 

5:45 - 6:30 pm -  Presentations

6:30 - 7:00 pm - Discussion

7:00 - 7:05 pm - Introduction to
AAAS gallery exhibit

7:05 - 8:00 pm - Reception

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