E. Bacon-Gershman

Unlocking the Secrets of Pollen

March 28 - April 14, 2023

Sprague Gallery

A digitally colored image of pollens observed in high resolution. Written on the bottom of the image appears to be a record from a device in use: "POM/HMC 2.0kV 16.0mm x 120 SE(M) 7/18/2022 15:28 400um."
Tasty Pollen Cookies, 2022, Scanning Electron Microscope and photo editing software. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Sprague Gallery is pleased to announce E. Bacon-Gershman – Unlocking the Secrets of Pollen, an exhibition of Scanning Electron Microscope images by E. Bacon-Gershman (HMC ’23, Chemistry).

The twelve SEM images on view show pollen and seed in the range of 1 nanometer to 1 millimeter. With the electron beam well aligned and at the right energy and all settings, such as X and Y astigmatisms, vertical focus, brightness, and contrast, in place, view of details on the surface of the sample as small as 10 nanometers, or 2,500 times smaller than the width of a human hair, is possible. Through these images in microscopic scale, Bacon-Gershman attempts to create a shift in the viewers’ perception and experience of the world. 

In creation of these images, there is the image of the scientist who idly takes a walk; looks at and picks flowers not for scientific data but for the sensation he gets from each flower; and looks at the flowers again in his lab, using the scientific instrument, but here, too, not for any scientific interest but for looking closely. What the scientific instrument brings him is not a clear view of the thing he is looking at but a heightened sense of its mystery. The instrument which collects electrons rather than light offers a view in black and white only. The surface of the sample remains opaque. The thing he is looking at remains an image. Then, the way he ‘unlocks,’ as he would say, the secrets of pollen is to highlight distinct features and qualities of each microstructure using color. To really see and color the image, he spends hours on end.

E. Bacon-Gershman – Unlocking the Secrets of Pollen opens on March 28 and continues through April 14, 2023. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 8AM to 5PM. The exhibition is open to the public. The Covid-19 guidelines will be updated as new information becomes available.

The exhibition is curated by arts director Julia Hong of the HMC Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts.

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