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Amy Lamb’s Photography: The Interplay of Science and Art

December 17, 2021
03:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Artist Amy Lamb talks about her artistic process and the roots of her practice in her early scientific training.

In this virtual talk, artist Amy Lamb talks about her artistic process and the roots of her practice in her early scientific training. An early internship in electron microscopy sparked her love for photographing intricate and delicate biological structures. During her years as a research biologist, she worked primarily at the molecular level where the processes and reactions she studied were invisible to the eye. Subsequent experiences in botanic gardens and her own garden opened her mind to an entirely new vision and practice. Through photography, she combines the curiosity, precision, and analytic approach of science with the creativity and flexibility of aesthetic design. Since the language of vision is accessible across cultural, economic, and educational levels, her photographs convey to many people the miraculous wonder of nature.   

Amy Lamb’s first botanical images of orchids revealed each plant’s uniqueness and diversity. For the past twenty-five years, she has grown, observed, and photographed many species, sharing the exquisite beauty of each plant’s character. Each detailed structure, whether a tiny hair or a robust seed pod, is a composite of nature’s flexibility and ingenuity in engineering living, complex, and beautiful forms. Lamb’s large-scale photographs in the Portraits of Plants exhibition fill the viewer with respect and admiration for the plants’ delicacy and fragility as well as their stalwart power to fade each autumn and return, with vigor, each spring.

Lamb’s professional career spans half a century of science and art. As an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Michigan, Lamb focused on biology and art history. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research in cellular biology at University of Michigan, Basel Institute of Immunology, and National Institutes of Health resulted in the collaborative development of groundbreaking procedures to understand the process of mammalian protein synthesis. Lamb transitioned to art to explore and convey visually the beauty and diversity of plant forms. She perfected her skill in studio photography at Montgomery College, the Corcoran School of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution. Lamb approaches photography with a scientist’s precision and an artist’s eye for color and form, and her primary interest is to portray the inherent beauty of plant structure. On a quest to deeply understand her subjects, she is an avid gardener; her indoor and outdoor gardens are her laboratory. Lamb’s work is found in private collections and public institutions such as the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Dallas Arboretum.

Amy Lamb (b. 1944), 2004, 50.8 x 50.8 cm, pigment print of photograph