Brandon Ballengée

Brandon Ballengée, 
Ghosts of the Gulf

Exhibition April 17th-May 1st

Artist and biologist Brandon Ballengée creates multi-media artworks inspired from his ecological field and laboratory research. Ballengée’s art has been exhibited internationally in over 20 countries, and he has received numerous awards and fellowships.

The artist holds a Ph.D. in Transdisciplinary Art and Biology from the University of Plymouth (England). Currently, he is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science studying the impact of the 2010 oil spill on Gulf of Mexico fish species. He recently received a Creative ‑Capital Award and delivered a TEDxLSU talk.

“These specimens were found already dead after the spill, and I wanted to analyze them through the clearing and staining process to screen them for anatomical deviations or developmental malformations. These particular species were once common but are now possibly in decline; they appear here as apparitions.”

“These images were made by chemically clearing and staining species collected in the Gulf after the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill disaster. These species, once common, may now be in decline and are meant to be seen as apparitions. The clearing and staining process involves firstly preserving specimens then placing them in an acid bath with blue stain, which adheres to cartilage. Next the specimens are masticated in a digestive enzyme called trypsin, which begins the clearing of other tissues. Then the specimens are bathed in an alkaline solution with red dye which bonds with bone. The final stages transition the specimens through a series of baths from Potassium Hydroxide to glycerin whereby the specimen tissues become transparent except for the bones and cartilage, which are vividly dyed red and blue. The final specimen looks like a brightly colored x-ray revealing the complex architectural anatomy of these beautiful and disappearing species.”

-Brandon Ballengée