Cell and Molecular Biology
immunology; poetry; visual art
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Art and science are often treated as separate disciplines in the modern world. Harkening back to the time when science was called “natural philosophy,” this project is intended to show the inherent compatibility between art, specifically painting and poetry, and science, specifically immunology. Hematopoietic (the source of the pun hematopoetic) cells all derive from a common progenitor in the human bone marrow; differentiated cells go on to inhabit a variety of areas in the body, from the blood to the lymphatics to other non-flowing tissues, either looking out for foreign material or being summoned when foreign material is found. For each of 11 of these cells, a canvas was painted, emphasizing an aspect of the cell’s physicality. Each canvas has a corresponding poem that puts the cell’s painting into the context of its lifestyle. Each poem is accompanied by an editorial commentary, further elucidating the cell’s purpose in the human immune system. The project suggests as much admiration for nature’s beauty—the appearance and purposefulness of form and function—as for humans’ imaginative abilities—our interpretation of appearances and creation of stories about them.