Continuing its series of exhibitions featuring the work of cross-disciplinary artists, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts recently opened the solo show Brandon Ballengée: Collapse. The New York resident describes himself as an artist, biologist and social activist, as well as faculty member of the School of Visual Arts.

On paper, his creds include a PhD in Ecological Understanding through Transdisciplinary Art and Participatory Biology; in person he will tell you he’s a guy from just outside of Nowheresville, Ohio, who always loved art and science, and is big into frogs.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a pyramid composed of stacked gallon-sized jars filled with aquatic specimens—26,162 of them representing 370 species—all dredged from the Gulf of Mexico post-BP oil spill.

A self-confessed New Orleans fanatic, Ballengée has made a point to study the lingering after-effects of the disaster on the biodiversity there. Their science-like hierarchical arrangement based on the food chain also represents other such associations as ancient Egyptian burial tombs. Ballengée tries to think sculpturally in delivering his findings.

Other aspects of Ballengée’s practically polymathic interests are on view here. The walls are lined with luminescent digital prints made by scanning various fish and other aquatic specimens then printed with watercolor inks onto watercolor paper. They reveal a world invisible to most of us; their delicacy and color adding to the attraction. A video and a small wall installation complete the show.

Brandon Ballengée: Collapse may be seen through October 10, 2015 at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, 724 S. 12th St. in the Old Market.


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