Dr. Sara C. Robinson
Principal Investigator/Assistant Professor
I’m a professor of wood anatomy at Oregon State University. I’m also an artist. My interests lay in wood aesthetics and the concept of parergonal aesthetics. I like pretty colors and aggressive sports – and I play a lot of roller derby.
I work within the field of art science as a bio artist. Unlike many artists who utilize scientific techniques to develop their art, I strive to maintain a balance of both fields in my work. I strive to not be ‘just’ an artist or ‘just’ a scientist, but to blur the line between the two disciplines. Neither science nor art can exist without the other, and it is important to communicate that to viewers.
I primarily utilize fungi in my work, often with wood as a medium. Two intertwining processes drive me – a return to natural ornamentation techniques and the promotion of parergonal aesthetics. Wood, as a traditionally functional material, holds a unique place within human emotions. The use of fungi and natural decay processes not only creates ornament (instead of dyes and stains), but challenges perceptions of functionality. Decay fungi are generally disdained, but wood is held in high regard. The meeting of both can create emotional conflict and challenges the viewer to reevaluate their position on functional wood and natural ornamentation processes.
My current work involves the development of colored pigments on wood by mold fungi. As molds are some of the most reviled fungi in the world, their use in functional art is controversial and challenges our core assumptions on toxicity, functionality, and understanding of the natural world.