The life sciences and the arts are deeply intertwined. In the late Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci studied human anatomy, producing exquisite anatomical drawings alongside his designs for flying machines. In 1859, Darwin famously referenced the evolution of “endless forms most beautiful.” And from the turn of the 20th century to the present, the concepts and materials of biology have penetrated the visual and performing arts through avenues as varied as DNA and protein structure-motivated dances and plays, tissue culture-based sculptures and prints, and even evolution-inspired rap. In past and in present, creative art, aesthetic judgment, and the life sciences have been integral to one another.

On Friday October 21st 2016, we will convene a public symposium bringing together scientists, performance and visual artists, educators, historians, and anthropologists to share their perspectives on this powerful intersection. Together, we aim to celebrate and raise awareness of the interconnections between the arts and the life sciences, and to provoke discussions of how biological knowledge and artistic expression might continue to explain the workings of the natural world, while simultaneously allowing us to appreciate and manipulate it.

IMAGE CREDITS, starting from the center, following the spiral: PDB ID: 1bna, image created using UCSF Chimera | Janet Iwasa, image from Chromatin Remodeling Project | Irving Geis (1994) TATA-Binding Protein; used with permission from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute | Synergy by Julian Voss-Andreae; photo by Christine Zardecki | Jane Richardson (1981) Ribbon schematic of Triosephosphate isomerase; CC-BY 3.0 | David S. Goodsell (2013) Glutamatergic Synapse | Cell Image Library:111; Section of methanol-fixed, cryostat-sectioned adult mouse cervical dorsal root ganglion by Linda Parysek; Public Domain | Colored SEM image of
Tradescantia pollen and stamens by Heiti Paves; CC BY-SA 3.0 | Ernst Haeckel (1904) Kunstformen der Natur; Public Domain | Leonardo da Vinci (around 1490) Vitruvian Man; photo by Luc Viatour /; Public Domain