McLean Project for the Arts Presents Methods of Inquiry: Fields of Discovery Group Exhibition

By Editorial Team on January 16, 2018
Leslie Holt, Depression Stain (scatter), acrylic and embroidery on canvas. Courtesy of MPA.
Currently on view through March 3.

McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) will open Methods of Inquiry: Fields of Discovery in the Bullock | Hitt Gallery at MPA@ChainBridge (1446 Chain Bridge Road, McLean). This curated exhibition features pieces by six artists whose work is influenced by science.

Methods of Inquiry features work by Michele Banks, Atsuko Chirikjian, Spencer Dormitzer, Leslie Holt, Susan Main, and Mark Robarge.

Referencing both the methods of discovery as well as images and concepts related to scientific fields such as chemistry, microbiology, neuroscience, physics and genetics, Methods of Inquiry embraces the commonalities that exist between science and art. Exhibited together, the works of these six artists offer varied views of the wonder found in the natural world—both inner and outer—and the processes human beings employ in order to gain a greater understanding of these wonders.

“ This synergistic combination of works by these six artists blend artistic and scientific thought and approaches in beautiful, intriguing, and unexpected ways,” Nancy Sausser, MPA’s Exhibitions Director and Methods of Inquiry curator.

Ideas explored by the selected artists include:

  • Michele Banks exhibits abstracted images that refer to basic biology, cell and microbiology and neurology.
  • Atsuko Chirikjian’s Stain Project shelf sculptures look like especially elegant and beautiful scientific experiments. Using materials and processes from the laboratory, test tubes are filled with colored liquid that is transported via absorbent string to adjacent paper.
  • Spencer Dormitzer’s drawings initiate intricate layers of accumulated marks with a circular format. Reminiscent of petri dishes or slides for viewing cells through a microscope, the building up of marks within the structure mimic methods of scientific discovery, where findings and processes are repeated time and again to highlight patterns and prove results.
  • Leslie Holt examines mixed media paintings from her Brian Stain series. These
    works employ an abstracted staining technique using acrylic paint and embroidery thread to interpret PET scan images of the brains’ experience of different mental illnesses as well as diagrammatic images of neurons.
  • Susan Main combines painting, drawing, video and projection to explore transitory phenomena, focusing on that which is on the periphery of our conscious attention.
  • Marc Robarge’s sculptures are rooted in a deep reverence for the forms and processes of nature. Biomorphic abstracted forms are built from tree limbs and bark, berries and leaf-like forms. The regenerative processes of nature are highlighted.

MPA@ChainBridge is located at 1446 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, VA. To learn more about Methods of Inquiry: Fields of Discovery, please visit