Vorticella convallaria 1676 & 2020

Jocelyn Curry (artist) and Rachel Pepper (scientist)

Dr. Rachel Pepper teaches physics and biophysics at the University of Puget Sound.  Her study of the interactions between ambient water currents and microscopic suspension feeders offers important findings for aquatic ecology, water treatment and remediation.  Dr. Pepper’s research inspired Jocelyn Curry to make the artist book, Vorticella convallaria: 1676 & 2020.
Artist Jocelyn Curry explains how she contrasts Dr. Rachel Pepper’s study of the single cell organism, Vorticella convallaria, with Van Leeuwenhook’s 1676 observations in her artist book, Vorticella convallaria: 1676 & 2020. She creates her own decorative patterns based upon this research.

Jocelyn Curry’s Artist Statement: When visiting Rachel Pepper’s physics lab at the University of Puget Sound, I learned about a Dutch microscopist named Van Leeuwenhoek who first identified, in 1676, the same protozoa being studied by Dr. Pepper and her students. After reading about Van Leeuwenhoek, and about Dr. Pepper’s advanced research in a modern lab, my concept formed: create a book with two profiles in contrasting graphic styles. I chose a folding screen structure so the six “pages” could be fully displayed from both sides. Illustration, botanical drawing, hand lettering, extracts from Dr. Pepper’s research, and original pattern panels were assembled digitally. Once printed, the pages were accented by hand with pens.

Size: The screen supporting the six pages of the book is 12″ high. Each screen segment is 4″ wide. When assembled, the book is 12″ wide when expanded. This structure folds flat and goes into a 5″ wide x 14″ long x 1.5″ high box.

Materials: Paper, acrylic rods, polyester film, and adhesives.

Book Structure: Hinged two-sided folding screen.

Printing/Production Method: The original artwork was created with India ink, watercolor, dip pens, and smooth rag paper. After scanning the original artwork, all the pages were digitally printed.

Edition: Unique

Year Created: 2020

Born in Seattle, Jocelyn Curry now lives in Shoreline, WA. After finishing a career as a calligrapher, illustrator and graphic designer she now enjoys being able to select challenging art and design projects that are either self-expressive or are done pro bono for the Shoreline community. Because the Science Stories project guaranteed delving into a topic unfamiliar to her, she chose to participate. While creating artist books is not her usual focus, she has always been awed by the unique design demands of unconventional and conventional book design.

Jocelyn Curry: e-mail: jocelyn.curry@gmail.com; website: http://jocelyncurry.com

Dr. Rachel Pepper is an Associate Professor of Physics and the William D. and Flora McCormick Chair in Biophysics at the University of Puget Sound. Rachel teaches physics and biophysics and does research focused on the intersection between fluid mechanics and biology.

Dr. Rachel Pepper: e-mail: rpepper@pugetsound.edu; website: http://drpepperlab.com

About her research connected to this project, Dr. Pepper writes, “Research in the Pepper Lab investigates biophysical questions with a focus on fluid mechanics. In particular, we look at how water interacts with living organisms. One of the two main projects in the lab focuses on microscopic sessile suspension feeders.

Sessile suspension feeders are an important part of aquatic ecosystems; they consume bacteria and small detritus and are in turn eaten by larger organisms. As bacteria consumers, these organisms also play an important role in biological wastewater treatment and may also be important in degrading contaminants from human-caused environmental disasters such as oil spills and sewage leaks. They live anchored to aquatic surfaces and survive by creating a feeding current that draws fluid towards them, and from which they filter their food of interest. An understanding of the flow generated by suspension feeders helps us determine their feeding rate, and predict what changes this feeding rate. An understanding of their feeding rate can help us not only to better understand the impact of microscopic sessile suspension feeders on marine ecology and carbon cycling but also improve water treatment plant design and improve remediation after environmental disasters.”