In the galleries: Science expands nature art, on grand and minuscule scales

The paintings and drawings in “Duality: Art and Science” are clearly handmade, yet are inspired by things glimpsed through machines, notably microscopes and radio telescopes. As interpreted by New York’s Jody Rasch and the District’s Betsy Stewart, the phenomena celebrated in the American Association for the Advancement of Science show appear similar in form, whether they’re massive or microscopic in actuality. They lose their original scale and, in some cases, their menace.

Cells of HIV and ovarian cancer, beautiful in enlarged isolation, are among Rasch’s subjects. He also depicts particle showers and electromagnetic spectra, which include visible light and much more. Some of his pictures incorporate equations, as though aspiring to the certainty of mathematics. Yet Rasch’s mixed-media style, which encompasses paint, ink and pencil, never looks mechanical.

Stewart, too, finds visual links between the smallest and hugest of substances known to science. Many of her works reveal fluid environments teeming with life, and suggest influences as diverse as Anne Truitt’s minimalist pylons and Asian styles both venerable and modern. Stewart uses scroll-like formats, juxtaposes sumi ink with acrylic paint and includes animé-like pink globes in her “Natale” series. The inspiration is science, but the whimsical contrasts could be produced only by an artist.

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