A unique traveling art exhibit has made a stop at the Clinical Center for July and August. “Art under the Microscope” is a collection of twenty art quilts created by the group Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends and inspired by scientific photographs taken by researchers at the University of Michigan (U-M) Center for Organogenesis.

"Fire in Her Eyes" by Judy Busby

“Fire in Her Eyes” by Judy Busby is a rendition of a photograph by Rebecca Bernardos of a section of a zebrafish retina. Bernados describes, “When the cells that detect light (photoreceptors) die in the human retina, they are never replaced. Some fish have the remarkable ability to produce new photoreceptors after injury. The goal of our research is to understand how these cells regenerate with the hope that this will suggest ways to reverse the effects of retinal degeneration in humans.”

In the course of diagnostic research, the microscope and special stains are used to examine tissues for alterations in structure or function that are characteristic of health or disease. The beauty of the photographs of these tiny biological structures inspired this series of quilts.

This traveling exhibit, organized by the U-M Health System Gifts of Art program and funded by the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, aims to honor these scientific research efforts, enrich community spaces by bringing the arts into everyday life, and raise public awareness about the importance of the arts in health-care settings.

Lisa Ellis is a founding member of Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends—based in the Washington, DC, area—and started the partnership between her quilting group and the U-M Health System.

“I have a passion for making art quilts that make health centers more pleasing for patients and educational for their families,” Ellis said. The “Art under the Microscope” project is Fiber Artists’ third with U-M. The first two highlighted diabetes and cancer. The research focus of their latest collaboration is important to show the different parties involved in health care, Ellis said.

The quilts hang in the CC’s East and West galleries in the Hatfield Building. A reception will be held on August 29 from 2:00 to 5:00 pm in front of the Travel office. The artists behind the displayed quilts will attend; all are welcome.

After the tour, which next takes the quilts to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, “Art under the Microscope” will become part of the permanent art collection of the U-M Health System.