Art & Science Contest

We are pleased to announce the winners of the competition!


1st Place – Ellen Wieland

2nd Place – Claire Stovall

3rd Place – Mark Bensen

Honorable Mentions:

    • James Maynard
    • Johnson Chen

Ellen Wieland

First Place Winner


The pantoum is a form of poetry that hinges on repetition. It is composed of quatrains—stanzas of four lines—wherein the second and fourth lines of one stanza are repeated as the first and third lines of the next. It loops back and revisits itself while building a twisted narrative. As a poet, the pantoum can be an odd form to work with. As a computer programmer, however, I find the repetition to be strangely familiar.

I’ve written this piece, “Pantoum of the Cud” as traditional form poetry but I’ve constructed it in Jupyter Notebook, a platform which I primarily use to write Python code to compute statistical data. Each line appears first in the poem when is encoded into a string variable. In the next stanza, that variable is printed out by the system instead of being written again by me, the poet. Each stanza is printed out from one code block.

“Pantoum of the Cud” is a piece that weaves together science and art at all levels, from concept to construction. Within the content of the poem, I explore cattle’s unique digestion systems and what we (the collective humanity) can learn from observing other biological forms. Poetry, at its core, is art that seeks to interpret and communicate the nature of the world. Programming, too, is a tool that organizes systems too complex for human comprehension. I hope this piece shows that Art and Science have few rigid distinctions when they work towards a common goal.

"Pantoum of the Cud" by Ellen Wieland (digital poem in code)
"Aquae Bloom" by Claire Stovall (still photos from video)

Claire Stovall

Second Place Winner


“Aquae Bloom” is a four-piece fashion look created to depict the Cyanobacteria growths in Lake Mendota, WI. This stems from Riley Hale’s and Krystyn Kibler’s (water researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) research on the characterization of microbes in freshwater lakes, how their communities change, and what kinds of physical and chemical processes they do. The video presented emphasizes the connection fashion can make to the organisms by projecting images and videos of them upon the model and presenting the model emerging from the lake. Through partnering with Water@UW, “Aquae Bloom” is able to connect with the community by showing the importance of preserving and caring for the freshwater environment in regards to freshwater microbial ecology.

Mark Bensen

Third Place Winner


There are trillions of bacteria living in our gastrointestinal system, creating a complicated world that is unique to each individual, called the microbiome. How these bacteria interact with each other and our bodies plays a vital role in our overall health and well-being. Several aspects of this complex world within have yet to be explained and remain a mystery. 

This art piece is a colon made from 226 pieces of wood. The species included are walnut, birch, maple, oak and cherry. It took six weeks, working daily, to make. It represents the complex interplay among the multitude of bacterial species within our gastrointestinal microbiome. Similarly, the contrasting wood species included in the sculpture all connect together to represent a balanced healthy system.

"Colon Sculpture" by Mark Benson (226 pieces of wood of various species)

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