Friday, November 2, 2012

8% of the Earth's Surface: Sarah Hearn

View of Sarah Hearn's Studio 
Sarah Hearn has developed an enviable working knowledge of botanical classification. Preparing for the Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma exhibition, the Oklahoma City artist works as diligently on scientific research as her drawing, photography and mixed media artwork.

Her “Symbiotic Cooperation” project fuses science and art as she investigates the lichen organisms. Through drawing, photography and crowd-sourced lichen samples, Hearn speculates about “how humans can collaborate with, understand and mimic small unassuming forms in nature, specifically, lichen.”
Sarah Hearn, Flavoparmeilia_caperata, lichen sample

Sarah Hearn, Collemia auriforme, lichen sample
As I have visited her studio over the past six months, first with the guest curator Alison Hearst, I have been enthralled by the strange story of lichen.  Hearn spouts off the oddities and strengths with great fluency.

My memories of the facts were edited by Sarah in the list below with Sarah’s updates in blue to show her depth of interest and good natured fascination with lichen.

  • cover 8% of the Earth’s surface (true- here is the source: Lichens of North America)
  • can survive upwards of 4,000 years (upwards of 1,000 years, beyond that, we are unsure. Read in multiple sources, but also mentioned in text above.)
  • are hybrid organisms, both alga and fungus (I would call them composite organisms of a fungus and either an alga or a cyanobacteria)
  • What else?? (lichens recently survived space travel. see the article here: )

Read more in this Art Focus Oklahoma magazine article or on Hearn’s own blog  The Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma exhibition opens December 16, 1-5 pm at the new Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council’s Hardesty Arts Center. See for more information. 

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