All posts by M.C.

Never-Seen-Before James Castle Drawings Found Inside the Walls of Artist’s House

Drawing by James Castle found during restoration of the Castle family house (all images courtesy of Boise City Department of Arts & History unless otherwise noted)

The house of the late James Castle has harbored some secrets that have come to light only recently, four decades after his death. While restoring the old residence in Boise, city officials found 11 never-before-seen artworks by the renowned, self-taught artist, hidden in the walls. Folded and placed between two wall boards — along with two books and a motley gathering of socks, drawing tools, tobacco bags, and one marble — the drawings were made with Castle’s signature materials of soot and spit.

James Castle, “Untitled (seven drawings)” (n.d.), found paper, graphic

The unexpected find occurred last December, towards the … Read the rest

What’s Wrong With Growing Blobs of Brain Tissue?

Last week, Rusty Gage and colleagues at the Salk Institute announced that they had successfully transplanted lab-grown blobs of human brain tissue into mice. Gage’s team grew the blobs, known as brain organoids, from human stem cells. Once surgically implanted into rodent brains, the organoids continued growing, and their neurons formed connections with those of the surrounding brains. It was the first time such transplants had worked: Until now, organoids had only ever been grown in dishes.

To be clear, Gage’s mice weren’t running around with human brains, nor did they have a human mind trapped inside their heads. The biggest brain organoids are lentil-sized and contain 2 to 3 million cells; a human brain is 20,000 times bigger and contains around 172 billion cells. Even … Read the rest

Scott Pruitt’s New Rule Could Completely Transform the EPA

In one sweeping move, the Trump administration may soon not only destabilize the last three decades of clean air and water rules, but also completely overhaul how the Environmental Protection Agency uses science in its work. If EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s recently-proposed rule gets enacted, it will spark a revolution in environmental regulation. But the question is—will it stand up in court?

Pruitt proposed the regulation on Tuesday, describing it as an effort to increase transparency. It would require the EPA to publish all the underlying scientific data used to support studies which guide clean-air and clean-water rules. It would forbid the use of studies that do not meet this standard, even if they have been peer-reviewed or replicated elsewhere.

Crucially, the proposed rule does not … Read the rest

Pratt Institute Announces Fine Arts MFA Exhibition, Boiling Point

Detail of work by Rachel Cohen, graduate MFA candidate ’18.

Boiling Point is the fifth installment of Pratt Institute’s Fine Arts Department’s curated, off-campus graduate exhibition.

“The students’ work represents a range of media, from painting, installation, sound performance, and sculpture. This show considers the metaphor of turning liquid into vapor, in the case of artists leaving a graduate program, excitedly anticipating the release of their work into the ether of related discussions and concerns, circling a more expansive contemporary art world now within their reach.”  — Regine Basha.

Opening Reception: May 5, 7-9pm

Gallery Hours: Thursday–Saturday, 12–6pm

Boiling Point opens on May 5 and continues at the Boiler (191 North 14th Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn) through May 16, 2018.

The post Pratt Institute Announces Fine Arts Read the rest

Why Did It Take So Long to Expose Hans Asperger’s Nazi Ties?

At least no one ever put up a prominent statue to Hans Asperger, so we are spared the scene where they bring in the crane to drag another historical figure down from his pedestal. But essentially, that is what has just happened to Asperger, the Austrian pediatrician who lent his name to the syndrome that recognized autistic traits in verbally fluent individuals who demonstrate superior intelligence and creativity. As the current issue of the scholarly journal Molecular Autism makes clear in specific detail, Asperger, who lived and worked in wartime Vienna, not only went along with the Nazi project to murder disabled children—in some ways, he facilitated it, putting his expert’s signature on documents that dispatched such children to facilities where they were murdered. The new, Read the rest

Researchers edit coral genes, hope to understand how to save them

Enlarge (credit: NOAA)

Coral reefs are the poster-organisms for ecosystem services, aiding fisheries, promoting biodiversity, and protecting land from heavy waves. Unfortunately, we seem to be repaying them by killing them. Our warming oceans are causing coral bleaching and death, rising sea levels will force them to move, and the acidification of our oceans will make it harder for them to form reefs. It would be nice if we could help them, but interventions are difficult to design when you don’t know enough about coral biology.

Now scientists have announced a new tool is available to study corals: genetic editing provided by the CRISPR/Cas9 system. The ability to selectively eliminate genes could help us understand how corals function normally and could eventually provide a tool

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A Portrait of Philosopher Donna Haraway as an Impassioned Storyteller

Donna Haraway in <em>Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival</em> (2016), directed by Fabrizio Terranova (all images courtesy Icarus Films)
Donna Haraway in Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival (2016), directed by Fabrizio Terranova (all images courtesy Icarus Films)

Elliptical, self-effacing, and subdued, Fabrizio Terranova’s Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival (2016) is no ordinary talking-head documentary about the influential philosopher, thinker, and scholar. Set in and around her forestial California home, which Terranova conceives as an assembled space with filmic techniques, the documentary (screening this week at Anthology Film Archives) is at once a glimpse into Haraway’s life and a casual credo exuding her way of thinking.

Although it’s a daunting task to summarize the depth and breadth of Haraway’s complex and abstract thoughts, to put it generally and briefly, she is a feminist whose beliefs are not rooted in out-and-out environmentalism, … Read the rest

Can Art Museums Help Illuminate Early American Connections To Slavery?

John Singleton Copley, “Lucretia Chandler” (1763), oil on canvas, Copley was one of the Boston area’s most prominent painters and painted this portrait of the daughter of a wealthy New England judge named Lucretia. The new signage at the Worcester Art Museum now notes that Chandler’s father, Judge John Chandler II (1683-1762), owned two slaves that he left to family members upon his death (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

WORCESTER, Mass. — On previous visits to the Worcester Art Museum, I had paused to consider the reserved posture and elegant dress of Lucretia Chandler Murray; however, I had not ever considered where her wealth and privilege came from — until now. While the older museum label for the portrait had underscored the characteristic style … Read the rest