Ashley Eliza Williams (she/her) is a painter, sculptor, and amateur ecologist exploring new ways of interacting with nature and with each other. She received a BA from UVA and an MFA from The University of Colorado, Boulder. She is a recent MASS MoCA North Adams Project grantee and has been a resident artist at Vermont Studio Center, Anderson Ranch, Millay Colony, Alte Schule Germany, the Shangyuan Art Museum in China, and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally at museums, galleries, and scientific institutions. She is a member of the research-focused NYC art collective Sprechgesang Institute. Williams has taught painting, sculpture, and color theory for six years. She currently lives in Massachusetts.
In this episode, Ashley and Brandi talk about the intersections of Nature + Communication, including:
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David Epstein (he/him) is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Range and The Sports Gene. He was previously an investigative reporter at ProPublica, where his work spanned from drug cartels to poor practices in scientific research. Prior to that, he was a senior writer at Sports Illustrated. He has master's degrees in environmental science and journalism, and has lived aboard a ship in the Pacific Ocean, and in a tent in the Arctic. His TED Talks have been viewed more than 10 million times, and he’s formerly the host of Slate’s popular “How To!” podcast. Like a love letter to generalists, backed by mounds of scientific data, his second book, Range, makes the case that delayed selection is actually better for development. When you “sample” many different things, taking your time to find what really suits you, you might spend years looking “lazy” or “directionless” from the outside, but there’s a good chance you’ll find greater satisfaction when you finally find “your thing.” In fact, in combining all of your varied experiences, you might also fill a unique niche in the world—one no one else has ever considered. And while the world might see this process as very “inefficient”—a hated behavior in an industrialized world—David and Brandi talk about how inefficiency is actually quite connected to the concept of “match fit,” which is really just another way to say “joy.” Plus: Vincent van Gogh, who didn’t come into painting until very late in his life, after years of trying many, many different things and often seeming a “failure.” The first time David realized that ...
Devika Nair (she/her) manages a large translational brain tumor project at UCSF. Their goal is to better predict tumor transformation to higher grades and differentiate between tumor and treatment effects in primary gliomas using advanced MR imaging techniques. Outside of research, she helps direct a science podcast group called Carry the One Radio whose mission is to ignite scientific curiosity. She also takes classes in and performs Indian classical dance, which has informed her understanding of her field of study—neuroscience. As a clinical researcher, she finds herself operating between brilliant colleagues with specialized training in high-level physics who run the MRI machines at a tumor research facility and the clinicians who make important decisions based on the lab’s findings. One day, though, an unexpected health scare took her out from behind the glass to inside of the very MRI machines she asks patients to enter every day. Suddenly, what was simply a professional passion—using story to communicate science to the general public—became a personal mission. She wasn’t sure how to explain the way MRIs work that might actually be interesting to other people, until she realized that the movement of hydrogen protons, which is how images wind up on film, look just like the movements of the Indian classical dance she learned as a child. In this episode, Devika and Brandi talk about the intersections of Neuroscience + Dance, including: The amazing story of how we met. Her health scare and how she applied her research skills to lend herself a sense of control in the midst of a scary situation. Growing up with an artistic mom that inspired her early dance ...
Ashley Jane Lewis (she/her) is a new media artist with a focus on Afrofuturism, bio-art, social justice, and speculative design. Her artistic practice explores black cultures of the past, present, and future through computational and analog mediums, including coding and machine learning, data weaving, microorganisms, and live performance. Listed in the Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada, her award-winning work on empowered futures for marginalized groups has exhibited in both Canada and the U.S., most notably featured on the White House website during the Obama presidency. Her practice is tied to science and actively incorporates living organisms like slime mold and food cultures (kombucha and sourdough starters) to explore ways of decentralizing humans and imagining collective, multi-species survival. Ashley is currently an Artist in Residence at CultureHub NYC as well as part of the Culture Futures Track in the NEW INC year 7 cohort, an art, design, and technology incubator run within the New Museum. In this episode, Ashley and Brandi talk about the intersections of Slime Mold + Social Justice, including: Afro-futurism, bio-art, social justice, and speculative design. The tensions between art and science, especially as a Black woman. How Ashley got into sourdough, sci-fi, and slime mold. What slime mold has to do with Black popular culture. What it teaches us about gender, mutual aid, and immigration. De-centering humans in imagining the future. Using AI as a science fiction tool to predict a future imagined by BIPOC folks. Plus, a ton of other things related to food, fermentation, our ancestors, passing information generationally through time, writing as a prophetic tool, and geeky things that Ashley and I ...