Artist in Lab
On January 24, 2005, the Art Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt initiated a new project, “Artist-in-Lab.” The partners of this unique and statewide alliance were the Department of Neurology of Otto von Guericke University in Magdeburg, the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials in Halle.
According to Mrs. Manon Bursian, Director of the Saxony-Anhalt Art Foundation, the goals of the new program are to “rethink and reinterpret the relationship between art and science, going beyond the confines of widely-held distinctions in order to find the similarities and dissimilarities in their interests and reveal their interplay.” The Art Foundation awarded two three-month work scholarships, each endowed for 6,000 €, to artists from Saxony-Anhalt. More than 50 applications were received. A six-person panel of artists and scientists reviewed the applications and ultimately selected two of the candidates. Beginning the first of May, and for three months thereafter, scientists opened their laboratories to the selected artists in order to offer them the unique opportunity to work in the laboratories of renowned scientific institutions and receive inspiration from the scientific search for the basis of human consciousness. The scholarship for neuroscience was awarded to Maria Volokhova, an artist from Halle. The 26-year-old artist was born in 1980 in Kiev, Ukraine and has been living in Germany for eleven years. Initially schooled in art, she came to Germany after having graduated from a high school for the arts in Kiev. She studied painting and graphic design until 2004 at the “Burg Giebichenstein” University of Art and Design, Halle.
During her studies, Ms. Volokhova spent one year at the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna and then participated in a three-month exchange program in the USA. Ms. Volokhova worked as a postgraduate scholarship student at the university to complete her training and broaden the scope of her work to include ceramics and porcelain. Her thesis “Labyrinths” demonstrated her interest in the intricate nature of the human organism through her portrayal in life-sized etchings of the processes and mechanisms functioning in the body.
The Artist-in-Lab scholarship allowed her for the first time to delve deeper into this area. The opportunity to observe brain researchers at work on site immediately inspired Ms. Volokhova to develop new ideas and approaches to her art that make use of her new acquaintance with scientific methods.
From May through August, she accompanied researchers and physicians at the Department of Neurology and the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, and even took part as a subject in various experiments. At the end of the three months, she wrote in her summary, “I tried to make maximal use of this time in order to take away as much as possible for my own work. For me, the experience has been extremely impressive, particularly since a person usually cannot gain entrance into such institutions.”
Directly after her initial presentation of this project on September 9, 2006 at the Zenit Building, Ms. Volokhova set out for a half year in Japan to acquire new techniques and inspirations for her porcelain art. This versatile artist hopes to exhibit her scientifically motivated work (perhaps with a far-eastern touch) next autumn.