Arts Beat: Body of Work

Six artists participate in an otherworldly sketching session at Orlando Science Center.



Roberto Gonzalez

Art took a short walk to meet up with science last week at Loch Haven Park.

A delegation of six local artists from the Orlando Museum of Art accepted an invitation from the neighboring Orlando Science Center to visit its “Mummies of the World’’ exhibition and sketch some of the figures in the collection: the mummified remains of human beings and animals from Egypt, South America, Oceana, Europe and Asia.

The artists were Ross Quesnell, OMA’s associate curator of education and outreach; Hansen Mulford, curator and head of collections and exhibitions; Catherine Pinyot, fine artist and illustrator; David Matteson, artist and writer; Jake White, development director; and Adam Wade Lavigne, facility assistant.

They were joined by Tom Thorspecken, whose “Analogue Artist in a Digital World” website features daily sketches of Central Florida scenes. Thorspecken was there to sketch the sketchers, as each chose a spot near a silent, mummified figure and set to work in the hushed, dimly lit exhibition space. Other visitors slipped by, looking over their shoulders.

The work of the artists – they used various mediums, but it’s safe to call them all still lifes – will eventually be put on display in the exhibit, which runs through November.

Pairing art and science makes perfect sense with this exhibit. Once you get past the “willies” factor, it’s more of a humanities course than a science lab. It’s a window through time into other cultures, a global photo album of the human family, a link to individuals who lived, breathed, had toothaches and broken bones and heartaches -- like the 38-year-old woman from 18th century Hungary who died from tuberculosis after seeing her husband and all three of her children succumb to the disease. Their naturally preserved bodies were discovered in a forgotten crypt in 1994.

Yet another visitor, one who knows mummies from the inside out, is slated to drop in on the exhibit later this month. Egyptologist Dr. Bob Brier, senior research fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, will be the guest of honor at the center’s Science Night Live on Sept 19. Brier will discuss his work as part of a team at the University of Maryland at Baltimore that mummified a human cadaver with the same tools used by ancient embalmers to better understand the process.

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