Now You See It! The Slime Mold Revelation

I'm building an exhibit about 400 years of art about slime molds. Now You See It! The Slime Mold Revelation will live at Seattle's Center for Urban Horticulture in Fall, 2015. Come party in the CUH library on September 18th (my birthday!)

Here are some images of the exhibit's conception, gestation, and installation.

A Flyer.

A Flyer.

First, I should explain that I've been immersed in slime molds for the past few years. I'm illustrating a field guide for world-renowned slime mold researcher Dr. Stephen L. Stephenson, at the University of Arkansas. His writing and my images are very close to being done!

Diderma effusum in progress

Diderma effusum in progress

Diderma effusum: consider it done

Diderma effusum: consider it done

Second, you'll want to know more about slime molds. Slime molds are the golden spore-filled blobs that appeared in your lawn overnight. They're the iridescent millimeter-tall corndog-looking things on your houseplant. The tiny parfait-cups and elaborate orange pretzels you stepped on in the woods. Slime molds are one-celled bacteria-eating protists, traveling the soils of every continent.  

Todd, not breaking my plasmodium 

Todd, not breaking my plasmodium 

So if they're so small and sparkly, Why the gross name? Slime molds begin their life as a fluid, pulsating, traveling, multinucleate cell called a plasmodium, like the cardboard one Todd is holding. Plasmodia can grow to be many feet long -- but still, they're just one cell. 

The holes are for petri dishes. 

The holes are for petri dishes. 

I designed this plasmodium as a vector so that a robot could cut it out with the push of a button. 

Alex dremels cardboard

Alex dremels cardboard

But the human in charge of pushing the robot's button became preoccupied with things unrelated to slime mold, so other humans stepped in to cut cardboard the old-fashioned way (with a Dremel tool and beer). Thank you, generous people. 

(This is a test.) Slime molds thrive through the formation of the Montlake Cut. 

(This is a test.) Slime molds thrive through the formation of the Montlake Cut. 

Nothing says Awe and Wonder like a diorama. I aspired to use free and natural materials: cardboard for the underground plasmodia, wax for the fruiting bodies (red and brown), Soy-based inks for the background images.

In the end, to be honest, some chemicals got mixed in. One day all my exhibits will be made of mycelium and treasures from dumpsters.

I did lots of Photoshopping to show myself and others how things might turn out. 

I did lots of Photoshopping to show myself and others how things might turn out. 

Physarum roseum

Physarum roseum

Enlarged on the walls and windows will be the incredible and little-known illustrations from The Myxomycetes of Japan, 1977. 

This is a test. 

This is a test. 

I e-mailed slime mold art experts around the world in order to curate the exhibit. Here are some of the images I got my hands on. 

Ernst Haeckel, 1902

Ernst Haeckel, 1902

Giulielma Lister, early 20th century. Miss Lister painted every slime mold known at the time. 

Giulielma Lister, early 20th century. Miss Lister painted every slime mold known at the time. 

A photo from an international slime mold Facebook group. 

A photo from an international slime mold Facebook group. 

Pier Antonio Micheli, 1729. Pier discovered spore germination. Nobody cared. 

Pier Antonio Micheli, 1729. Pier discovered spore germination. Nobody cared. 

Sakuma Bungo, circa 1942. At 71, Sakuma decided to spend the last year of his life drawing slime mold. 

Sakuma Bungo, circa 1942. At 71, Sakuma decided to spend the last year of his life drawing slime mold. 

This one's mine: Craterium leucocephalum with inner structure and spores. 

This one's mine: Craterium leucocephalum with inner structure and spores.