Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June Shows & Markets: Bees and Returning to Campbell House

Rusty-patched Bumble Bee, linocut, Ele Willoughby, 2017
This week sees a new show at the Toronto Etsy Street Team Gallery, the 3rd annual 'Bees (& the Birds)', which raises funds and awareness of our beleagered pollinators, hosted by my friend Christine Pensa of Art That Moves. Come by the gallery to see the show between June 7 to 20th or join us for the Opening party June 8! Along with 30 artists and craftspeople who've made art inspired by bees, you can see my latest linocut of the endangered rusty-patched bumble bee and a print I made for an entomologist earlier this year, Megachile brevis.

Megachile brevis, linocut by Ele Willoughbby 2017

I'm also taking part in the Toronto Etsy Street Team's Midsummer Market! This is a really fun indoor/outdoor summer show at the Campbell House museum, Queen St and University. Check out the fabulous lookbook and join us for the show June 17!

I've got a couple other exciting things coming up which I can't wait to share with you! I've been a busy week...

Friday, May 12, 2017

WUNDERKAMMER: The Cabinet of Curiosity Show

I'm very excited to have curated the Toronto Etsy Street Team Gallery's first group art show, WUNDERKAMMER: The Cabinet of Curiosities from May 11 to 28. This art - or science art - show, is inspired by the Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosity, the immense, eccentric, encyclopedic natural history collections gathered by collectors since the Renaissance. Cabinets of Curiosities featured treasured zoological, botanical, anatomical, fossil and gem specimen, collected by early citizen scientists. WUNDERKAMMER features original sculptures, drawings, hand-bound books, prints, paintings, printmaking, ceramics, jewellery, generative and multimedia specimen of natural and unnatural history on all scales, from the microscopic to the macroscopic. We are featuring the work of local artists (myself included):

István Aggott Hönsch

Erin Candela
Gavin Canning

Andrée Chénier
Carolyn Eady

Leslie Fruman
Monika Millar

Heather Ibbott
Colleen Manestar

Peggy Muddles
Teodora Opris

Christine Strait-Gardner
Tosca Teran

Rovena Tey
Lauren Vartanian

Ele Willoughby

Explore our curiousity cabinet of wildlife biology, mathematics, chemistry, mycology, micro and cellular biology, marine biology, entomology, botany, and fantastical lifeforms through the lens of art.

Join us Saturday, May 13, 6:00 pm to 10:00 for our Opening! FOLLOW THE LINK TO RSVP

Also, check out this lovely little write up about my women in STEM on Women You Should Know!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What makes minouette different?


I've decided to enter the #EtsySmallBusiness #DifferenceMakesUs contest! The Canadian winner (with the most votes) gets $13,000 to scale their business. I'm pitching my story as marine geophysicist/printmaker making science art as what makes me unique. Please take a moment to vote for me here!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

News and plans: WUNDERKAMMER, #SciArt Tweetstorm and more

If you've been following me for long, you'll know that I'm obsessed with Cabinets of Curiosity and in fact, I view my growing portfolio of prints about natural history as a sort of wunderkammer. So, when we decided to take the plunge and sub-lease the gallery for 2017, it was obvious that I would want to curate not just a #SciArt show, but a Cabinet of Curiosity show. I'm really excited to announce this show and there are so many team members who would be a perfect fit, I'm already curating in my head. I'm looking forward to seeing applications even! I've opened the application to all local artists, so you don't need to be a team member to apply. There are a lot of amazing artists inspired by science in this city. Apply!

This week has been the now annual Twitter #SciArt tweetstorm, so I've been busily sharing my art and art of others all week. You need to go check out the hashtag today, if you haven't been following.

Also, we plan to revisit Christine's Bees (& the Birds) show about pollinators this year.  We are of course going to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday with a Canada themed show opening Canada Day. Jen, who is also an ambassador for the Body Image Movement, is curating a Love Your Body show about positive body image. We thought a Halloween show would be fun, and I'm also going to enjoy curating a dinosaur Dinovember show in November, of course!

A huge congratulations to the remaining 32 candidates to become the next two Canadian Space Agency astronauts! I had the pleasure of meeting several of them with my batch of fellow candidates at the Astronaut Assessment Center, and will be cheering them on as the competition continues.

http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/astronauts/recruitment/map.asp# While I'm no longer in the running, it's been quite the experience to make it this far. I was proud of myself for completing the application! 3072 people applied, but about twice that number began but did not complete the lengthy and involved process. I was very glad to have the opportunity to have a glimpse at what the life of an astronaut is all about as well as to meet so many of these accomplished Canadians!

Thanks very much to my friends and family who cheered me on and helped free up my time so I could participate in the process as long as I did. I really appreciate all your support and encouragement. It meant a lot!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Playing catch-up: Shows, SciArtist at home, Gallery & Astronaut recruitment

Life has been extremely busy of late and I haven't had any time to update my blog, so I'm planning to make a big post about everything. You've been warned. I've opted for chronological, rather than any other sort of ranking, since I know how to do that.

I did the full One of a Kind show this year. It was a busy, exhausting time! Thank you very much to everyone who stopped by to see me, purchased art and my fabulous friends and colleagues for all your great company and support! I have the greatest customers. I love that I sold art to the parents of burgeoning scientists, neuroscientists, geologists, paleontologists, historians, and all sorts of other fascinating people. And an extra special thank you to those who allowed it to happen; my husband and Dad the booth builder and installation team, my mom the chief babysitter, my trusty assistants Becca and Karla, volunteer sales help and excellent company Peggy and Carrie, carpooling friends Leslie and Queenie, entertainment and bingo queen Emma.

We had a nice Christmas here in Toronto with family.

First big announcement of 2017: the Toronto Etsy Street Team has a brick and mortar incarnation for the year. While our team mate, printmaker and friend Pam of Graven Feather gallery takes mat leave, we will be subleasing her gallery for the year! We'll be hosting art shows, pop-up markets, trunk shows, workshops and more all year long. We started with a launch paerty and mini show from team leaders on January 28th. You can still find my art at our 906 Queen St W location and stay tuned for more of our exciting plans (including my plans to curate a SciArt show this spring)! My friend Emma is taking the lead on this project and I'm glad that she has the gumption to convince me that we should do it!

My home, studio and peculiar combination of jobs and interests were the subject of this Toronto Star article. It's part of their series on people who work from home. It was pleasure speaking with them about my blend of art and science. Roger's rocking horse and hand built furniture for Gabriel were also a hit. (Geoscientists will recognize that 'general physics' should read geophysics, but it's a nice little article).

Reflections by Ele Willoughby. Linoleum block print with chine collé / 2017 / 8 x 15 in. / $180 (SOLD). On view in our LUNAR exhibit for @Printaustin through February 18th. This print stems from my experience of working at sea, where in the absence of light pollution, celestial bodies like our moon and even planets, cast bright reflections as far as the eye can see. Moonlight in turn, consists of reflections of sunlight (with some starlight and some earthlight reflected back at us). So the light on the ocean is reflections upon reflections. #art #science #sciart #exhibition #gallery #instadaily #science #artoftheday #graphic #fineart #instaart #atx #texas #art #artwork #moon #artistic #design #artnews #artshow #blockprint #instagood #illustrator #artist #creative #astronomy #visual #austin #printmaking #printaustin
A photo posted by Art.Science.Gallery. (@artsciencegallery) on

I am very happy to have a print in Art.Science.Gallery's show LUNAR, their official entry in PRINT Austin for 2017. If you're in Austin, you can still catch the show until February 18th. I'm also very happy to learn that their crowdfunding efforts were successful and the gallery will remain open for 2017.

Last, but definitely not least, a few of you will know, but last summer I applied to be an astronaut! Selecting Canada's next two astronauts is a year long process. I'm very proud to say that I am one of 72 people still in the running from 3772 initial applicants! There's a lot of testing still to go before they make their selections by August but it's very cool to be part of this amazing group of people. From this incredible talent pool they will have to narrow it down to two new astronauts.

If you want to find out what I'm up to in closer to real-time, I recommend following me on twitter and instagram.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Ursula Franklin for Ada Lovelace Day #ALD16

Ursula Franklin, linocut, 11" x 14" by Ele Willoughby, 2016
This year, to celebrate the international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and math, Ada Lovelace Day (ALD16), I am returning again to my first subject: Ursula Franklin (16 September 1921 – 22 July 2016). Every year since 2009, people have devoted the 2nd Tuesday in October to blogging about (and otherwise celebrating) the under-recognized and under-appreciated women who have made pivotal contributions to STEM throughout history, in the name of Countess Ada Lovelace. (I hope you'll all recall, Ada, brilliant proto-software engineer, daughter of absentee father, the mad, bad, and dangerous to know, Lord Byron, she was able to describe and conceptualize software for Charles Babbage's computing engine, before the concepts of software, hardware, or even Babbage's own machine existed! She foresaw that computers would be useful for more than mere number-crunching. For this she is rightly recognized as visionary - at least by those of us who know who she was. She figured out how to compute Bernouilli numbers with a Babbage analytical engine. Tragically, she died at only 36.)

A preliminary mock-up of one of the Phylo cards
in this new Women in Science and Engineering set
featuring my portrait of today's namesake: Ada Lovelace
I began participating in Ada Lovelace Day in 2010, and I knew immediately I should write about Ursula Franklin. For me she really personifies the goals of ALD; not only did she represent excellence in science and engineering, but she was a great, perhaps even visionary, thinker on the very role of technology in our society, as well as a fearless and tireless advocate for women in STEM, peace and social justice. Her research interests and achievements were clearly guided by her principles, including gathering evidence of the harmful health effects of radiation from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons to or her work on the political and societal impacts of support of the technologies and their use. When she died earlier this year, I wrote about her life, work and how she has been one of my heroes since I was too young to fully appreciate the importance of role models in my scientific career. Her influence as a roll model of women in physics and engineering here cannot be overstated. She was one of the most impressive people I have ever met. I got some encouragement from friends to do something I had long contemplated: add her portrait to my growing collection of scientists. When I finally sat down to do so this September, I was really tickled to open my email and receive a commission to do precisely that! I'm really pleased to say I'm going to be contributing some artwork to latest edition of the Phylo Project from Dave Ng and the Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory (the science education facility within the Michael Smith Laboratories, UBC): a trading card game about Women in Science and Engineering! Sometimes you get several hints of what work you should do next; this portrait's time clearly had arrived.

Franklin was born in Munich in 1921 and survived being interned by the Nazis. She received her PhD in physics from the Technical University of Berlin in 1948 and immigrated to Canada, where after a post-doc at U of T, she joined the faculty. She pioneered archeometry - the use of modern materials analysis in archeology, dating prehistoric artifacts made of metals and ceramics. In my portrait I include an image of an ancient Chinese ding vessel to represent both her metallurgical research and archeometry and her writing about "prescriptive" versus "holistic" technologies used in mass production versus technologies used by craft workers and artisans. Her science was always engaged with societal concerns. During the 60s she advocated for the atmospheric nuclear test ban treaty, citing her studies of strontium-90 radioactive fallout found in children's teeth. Strontium-90 (90Sr) is called a "bone-seeker" because biochemically it behaves like calcium and when absorb it in our bodies what isn't excreted finds its way to our bones. Thus, this radioactive product of nuclear fission (for instance, in atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons) is particularly dangerous and can cause cancers. It decays by beta decay, giving off electrons, as shown by the child's tooth in my portrait. During the 70s she was part of the Science Council of Canada investigation of how we could better conserve resources and protect nature. She began to develop her ideas about complexities of modern technological society.

She consistently has stood up for her beliefs in peace and social justice. As a member of the Voice of Women (now called Canadian Voice of Women for Peace), she tried to persuade Parliament to disengage Canada from supplying any weapons to the US during the Vietnam war, to shift funding from weapons research to preventative medicine, to withdraw from NATO and disarm. She later fought to allow conscientious objectors to redirect part of their income taxes from military uses to peaceful purposes (though the Supreme Court declined to hear the associated case). She joined other retired female faculty in a class action law suit against the University of Toronto for claiming it had been unjustly enriched by paying women faculty less than comparably qualified men. The University settled in 2002 and acknowledged that there had been gender barriers and pay discrimination.

As an applied scientist, her writings on technology benefit from the insight of an insider, but her priorities are justice and peace and she critiques and analyses technology in this light. She does not view technology as neutral; it is a comprehensive system that includes methods, procedures, organization, "and most of all, a mindset". It can be work-related or control-related, holistic and prescriptive. Franklin argues that the dominance of prescriptive technologies in modern society discourages critical thinking and promotes "a culture of compliance". She investigated the relationship between technology and power. She investigated how we interact with communication technologies and advocated for the right to silence - long before our contemporary concern with these issues.

Many of her articles and speeches on pacifism, feminism, technology and teaching are collected in The Ursula Franklin Reader (2006). A nod to her pacifism and feminism is built into the structure of her portrait which encompasses the symbols for peach and women in the negative space. Franklin is one of many respected scholars and thinkers to have delivered a series of Massey Lectures, in 1989. Hers were gathered and published as The Real World of Technology. She has been recognized for her work in many ways, including receiving the Order of Canada, Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for promoting the equality of girls and women in Canada and the Pearson Medal of Peace for her work in advancing human rights. She was inducted into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame in 2012. Locals may know the Ursula Franklin Academy, a Toronto high school, named in her honour. I think this University, city, country and in fact, society at large were made a better place because Ursula Franklin was a part of it. So, though she has received this recognition, I think she should be a household name, so that's why I am happy to add her to my portrait pantheon of scientists and write about her again this Ada Lovelace Day 2016. I also think that it is very apt to combine making her portrait using holistic technologies of the artisan and sharing it through more prescriptive digital technologies with the world.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Etsy: Made in Canada Toronto III

It's me at the minouette table (photo: Peter Power)
Central atrium with suspended
critters by LoveLetteringToronto (photo: Peter Power)

So we made it through our third year of Etsy: Made in Canada Toronto at MaRS! We had a great turn-out, and despite some signage snafus and unplanned early morning musical tables (like musical chairs, but with craft show locations and no music), it went really well and together with my fellow organizers we pulled this feat off once again! This takes months of work and planning to make an event like this happen and really I just want to sleep for a week. You can read my post about the show here - but let me reiterate my thanks especially to my team of organizers, our volunteers, staff, workshop teachers and everyone who came out to see the show!

I put my marine geophysicist's skills of "how to lower things on ropes" and tie proper knots to work suspending our decor with fishing line from catwalks on the second and third floor of the soaring MaRS atrium (pro tip: don't look down or get yourself locked in an elevator) on the Thursaday evening prior to Etsy's Press Preview on Friday. Etsy wanted me to meet their new COO, who visited the show on Saturday and bought a 'Raccoon Greetings' print for her office, which was pretty nifty.

My parliament of 150 owl linocuts I made for swag bags!
Preparing for this show is why I've been pretty quiet here; in recent months it's really taken all of my time not spent caring for Gabriel. Our team had some bad luck this year, with members and their loved ones having a variety of health problems, which meant that we had fewer people doing more work. It's really imperative that people do put their own health first, and I'm glad that those who needed to do so stepped back. But, that's left me with the unenviable role of finding and picking up the slack and taking on a bit too much. I need a better approach in the future. I got off easy with one minor trip to Emerg, having cut right through a fingernail chopping onions (because I was over tired). They glued me back together, gave me a tetanus shot and sent me home. Others had far more serious issues to contend with... but all of the above are the signal that things will need to change as we go forward.

Being interviewed by What She Said about Etsy: Made in Canada
In the lead-up to the show I did get some exciting press. I was interviewed on What She Said (which has a large listenership here in Ontario) about Etsy: Made in Canada (and you can watch the whole thing on YouTube at the link). I was also on CBC radio's Here and Now. They did a great little feature not just about the show, but since their Arts reporter was intrigued by the idea of a geophysicist/printmaker, about me and what I do!

In less MIC-related press, I was interviewed by the CBC for the local newscast earlier this summer about the impending (and mercifully avoided) postal strike and its potential impact on small businesses like mine. They also took a clip of that - and to our surprise - played it on the national radio news the next morning. I've been so busy, I didn't even mention that here.

Also, early this summer, I had the pleasure of meeting Gloria and Caroline of RogueStories, a series about people who have made unexpected bends in their career path, especially women entrepreneurs. Check out the great article they published about me.

Now... I'm going to go take it easy for a while! Happy autumn all!