'Eternity' - Oil on Canvas by Claire Dempsey
“From my rotting body flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity” - Edvard Munch
This painting was inspired by an interesting paradox; that we are both temporary and eternal.
See, the universe is very old, 13.8 billion years old to be precise. It might be easier for us to imagine just how long that period of time is if we were to condense it down into just one year. The Big Bang happens on the 1st of January but it takes until September for our solar system to even begin to form. Humans won’t appear until December 31st, with modern civilization only occupying the last 14 seconds of the year! The universe had been around for a staggeringly long amount of time before we humans ever evolved. However, the interesting thing is that although we haven’t been around for very long in our human form, the elements that compose our bodies, the ‘stuff’ we are made of, has.
You may or may not have already heard the idea that our bodies are made of ‘star dust’. What is meant by this is that the elements that make up the human body were first formed billions of years ago in the immense heat of exploding stars. Carl Sagan explained that “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies, were all made in the interiors of collapsing stars.”
If you think about it, on the smallest level, we are all just different arrangements of atoms. But atoms didn’t appear out of nowhere for our exclusive use. The atoms that make up your body now were in existence thousands of years ago, just in a different form. Some of the atoms in your right hand were in plants, some in animals, and some were in other people, and millions of years before that they were in planets and stars. Likewise, they will not simply evaporate when we die. They will be recycled into the earth, dispersed and used again in other ways, eventually ending up in other plants and animals as well as inanimate objects. Atoms are continually being passed around and reused. Our current form is only very temporary, especially when you think about our lifespan compared to the vast age of the universe, but what we are made of has been around for longer than we can imagine. We have always been here, just not in this particular arrangement.
“Nothing retains it’s form; new shapes from old.
Nature, the great inventor, ceaselessly contrives. In all creation, there is no death –
No death but only change and innovation;
What we people call birth is but a different new beginning; death is but to cease to be the same.
Perhaps this may have moved to that and that to this, yet the sum of things remains the same.”
Working on the ‘flame nebula’ today. Is there anything more fascinating and beautiful than images of deep space? Oil on board (unfinished)
Day 2 of painting this misty brain. I’m not sure what I will call this painting yet. It’s quite different from the last few I’ve made!
I was inspired by the online neuroscience course I’m taking as well as the Buddhist notion of impermanence, hence the fading around the edges.
An annotated map of the moon documenting layers of knowledge about the moon from the earliest moon drawings in caves to Gallileo’s telescope to traditional folklore to the moon landings and further. Completed in ink on mountboard.
By Helen Cann
One of many reasons why the A for ART in STEAM is necessary and relevant across all platforms of science. So cool and a wonderful illustrative idea.