It’s well documented that Paul Allen is an art fanatic by way of the museums (Museum of Pop Culture) and endeavors (Seattle Art Fair, Upstream Fest) he has created and supports in Seattle. Now, art is even finding a home at the Allen Institute, the nonprofit research organization the billionaire philanthropist founded to answer big questions in bioscience.
The Institute announced Wednesday that conceptual artist Tavares Strachan has joined the organization as its first artist-in-residence. A news release touted Strachan as a “globally-recognized artist” and said that the 37-year-old Bahamas native “works on a massive scale from space to the arctic to living systems and human design.” He often explores the intersection of art, science, and the environment, “making the unseen visible,” the Institute said.
Strachan currently has an exhibition of his sculpture and collage work at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum called “Always, Sometimes, Never,” which runs through April 15.
At the Allen Institute, he will mingle with and observe scientists across multiple fields, ranging from neuroscience to cell biology to computational modeling.
“It’s a great opportunity to interact with scientists at the cutting edge of technology in their fields,” Strachan said in the release. “Having access to that kind of science just doesn’t happen in regular life. … To me the interest is how we’re the same, not how we’re different.”
Strachan will be on site each month throughout 2018. While aiming to understand how the Institute approaches issues around bioscience, he will also share his knowledge and experience of expressing complex contextual ideas through play and exploration.
“Art and science both rely on design, imagination, and inspiration,” said Tom Skalak, executive director of The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group. “Having a world-class conceptual artist like Tavares at the Institute will allow for mutual exploration of new territory. Tavares is accustomed to crossing boundaries, and has an instinct for direct lines to provocative actions that have produced works of great beauty and reflectiveness.”
The Institute is no stranger to embracing art and showcasing inspiring work throughout its South Lake Union facility, including sculptures, paintings and conceptual art.
At the corner of Mercer Street and 9th Avenue North, for instance, Jaume Plensa’s sculpture “MIRALL” is on display, with two seated figures facing each other, as if in perpetual, silent conversation. Their forms are defined by a skin of letters from eight alphabets – Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Hindi, Hebrew, Japanese, Latin and Russian.