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This week BME is hosting its first Coulter Seminar by an artist. Working in the intersection between art, science, and engineering, Gupi Ranganathan holds an MFA in painting and printmaking from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, as well as degrees in engineering and management from her native country, India. Gupi’s seminar Liminal Meanderings: Between Art, Science and Engineering is based on her collaborations with scientists and researchers on two main projects: Unfolding (2009-11), as artist-in-residence at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and more recently with the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research and the Broad Institute for Cultured Interactions (2006-19).

Gupi explains the meaning behind the title and the focus of her upcoming talk at the Joint BME Department as follows “My studio practice has evolved to continuously learn and constantly move between art, science and engineering. I have been asking new questions and exploring possibilities beyond what is this?, and where is this going? to what if? and maybe. While liminal relates to either a transitional or initial stage of a process, meandering refers to an act of following a winding course.  As a result, my work has shifted to focus on evolving structures and patterns, becoming more investigative, conceptual and abstract. I have started exploring new ways of working to combine my drawing, painting and printmaking to include wood burning, sculpture and video to create mixed media work. More recently, my collaborative work has focused on site-specific and time-specific projects that include installations and wall drawings.” 

As an artist in residence at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Gupi worked with Lieberman-Aiden on the problem of genome folding (Lieberman-Aiden & Van Berkum et al., Science, 2009). Their visual experimentations grew into a varied body of artworks titled Unfolding (2009-11) that contributed to advances in the scientific community’s understanding of how the human genome folds. You can watch Gupi’s video on the problem on genome folding and unfolding here. The discussions and questions raised during Gupi’s Broad residency, and her collaboration with the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research to design an installation for their ten-year anniversary broadened the scope of her project Cultured Interactions (2006-2019), started at MassArt. This second project encompasses two related series: Evolving Landscape and Continuum, which focuses on the problems of processing, connecting, combining, and sharing complex genomic and neurobiological information. In anticipation of her talk, Gupi created the following Cultured Interactions videos 40 Samples and Synthesis and Evolving Landscape.

Having exhibited and shared her work in the intersection of art and science in galleries and forums in the USA, China, and India, Gupi reflects over the last twelve years as part of a larger continuum of interactions and collaborations. She shares “the Covid pandemic has especially highlighted the need to explore more deeply how I can extend myself as an artist to contribute to research projects through the creative process. For me, tracking our memories and reflecting on them is a reminder of what it means to be human, how we choose to evolve and bring together our different ways of thinking as part of a larger whole. I think of humans as pathways, coming together, relating to each other, and forming an ever-evolving complex web of memories that will inform later generations.” To learn more, you can read a recent interview with Gupi on Sci Art Magazine here.

Coulter Seminar date and location: this Friday November 12 at 11.45 am. Artist Gupi Ranganathan will be presenting live from NC State (Engineering Building 3, Room 4142) and the seminar will be videoconferenced to UNC (MacNider, Room 321). Face masks are to be worn while attending the seminar. Additionally you can attend virtually using the Webex meeting link: Or join by Meeting number (access code): 2311 512 8384. Meeting password: Q9ji3nbfHc2

Gupi Ranganathan, “Liminal Meanderings: Between Art, Science and Engineering” (2021), digital image including a detail shot from installation image of trans-form: a study for liminal meanderings, 2019-20, An installation for Broad@15 including a site and time specific wall drawing using turmeric, sacred ash, slaked lime and tape, graphite, water, isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and acrylic paint markers, dimensions variable, that includes, from “Unfolding” (2009-11), Sampling: Beyond Observation: Filling the Gaps (04, 06), 2010, two installed mixed media drawings on Arches Rives paper including collaged sampled woodblock prints made using oil on Arches Rives paper, and acrylic paint, 18″x24″ each, Image: Will Howcroft, 2019; and a digital image from “Cultured Interactions: Evolving Landscape and Continuum” (2006-2018), Cultured Interactions: Evolving Landscape I (062), 2016, mixed media drawing on Arches Rives paper including collaged sampled woodblock prints using oil on rice paper, acrylic, gouache and pens, 6″x3.4″ Image: Gupi Ranganathan, 2016.
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