The Science Center’s Esther Klein Gallery Reopens with Exhibit Exploring the Effects of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19
Philadelphia,Pa- The Science Center’s Esther Klein Gallery is reopening for the first time
since April, with Socius, a new solo exhibition by Philadelphia artist, Rebecca Rutstein
(https://rebeccarutstein.com/). Rutstein recently completed a BioArt Residency designed in partnership
between the Science Center and the biotech company Integral Molecular, where she spent three
months working alongside laboratory scientists. The culmination of this residency is an exhibit of large
and small-scale paintings and a multi-media installation.
Inspired by the Latin word for “bond” or “interaction” and deriving from societas, the derivative for
“society,” Rutstein’s work is an exploration of the effects of SARS-CoV-2 virus both at the cellular micro
level, and also at a macro level amongst the community.
Many of the works on view are inspired by microscopic observations of communities that living cells
create, as well as cells fluorescing as they are infected with the virus using Integral Molecular’s Reporter
Virus Particle (RVP) technology. Using fluorescence, RVPs allow us to visualize human cells being
infected upon interactions of viral spike proteins with receptors on the cell surface, and have been a tool
for discovering protective antibodies that neutralize the virus. At the macro level, two paintings which
track data of infections and deaths show racial inequities and disparities during the pandemic, and the
contrasting effects on different minority communities.
Also on view is Rutstein’s immersive sculpture, light and sound installation. Sub Surficiem, inspired by
the artist’s observance of living cells through a microscope, is a sculptural installation backlit with LED
lights programmed to simulate a video time-lapse of living cells fluorescing as they become infected
with SARS-CoV-2 using Integral Molecular’s RVP technology. Confluence is the sound component to Sub
Surficiem and its macro counterpart. This five-minute piece is a sonification of data that tracks COVID-19
cases, deaths and vaccinations in Philadelphia, each set of data its own track layered into the
composition. The digital rendering of a full range of stringed instruments was created in collaboration
with Mexican composer Mauricio Rodriguez, NEA fellow and Doctor of Musical Composition from
Stanford University. Philly-based musician, Frank Masciocchi (part of the Integral Molecular team) also
contributed interpretive guitar sounds creating ambient dissonance within the piece.
This immersive installation takes the viewer beyond the microscope lens while “listening” to the
macrodata of the Philadelphia community, reflecting on the positive impact of vaccines yet
acknowledging the uncertainty that remains.
Socius opens on August 5th with a reception and artist talk at the gallery by Rutstein herself. A closing
reception with a live performance will be held on September 23rd.
The BioArt Residency is made possible through a grant from the Edna Andrade Fund of the Philadelphia
About the Artist
Multidisciplinary artist Rebecca Rutstein works at the intersection of art, science and technology. For
over twenty years she has created painting, sculpture, interactive installation and public art inspired by
geology, microbiology and marine science, and has joined scientists on several expeditions exploring the
deep sea. Rutstein is passionate about creating visual and immersive experiences that connect the
viewer with hidden environments, deepening their connection with the natural world. Her collaborations
have been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Academies of Science / Keck Futures
Initiative, Ocean Exploration Trust, Schmidt Ocean Institute and the Edna Andrade Fund of the
Philadelphia Foundation. She has received a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Independence Foundation
Fellowship, PA Council on the Arts grant, is an MIT Ocean Discovery Fellow, and was recently named the
Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding at the University of Georgia. Rutstein’s work can be found
in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Georgia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of
the Fine Arts Museum, Yale University, University of New Mexico and the US Department of State. She
has been represented by Bridgette Mayer Gallery in Philadelphia since 2001.
About the Science Center
Established in 1963, the Science Center is a mission-driven nonprofit that commercializes promising
technology, cultivates talent, and convenes people to inspire action. With partnerships across top
academic and research institutions, industry, and healthcare systems, the Science Center is helping lifesaving technologies transition from bench to bedside and nurturing a workforce that supports a 21st
century economy. For more information, visit sciencecenter.org sciencecenter.org and follow @UCScienceCenter.
About the Esther Klein Gallery
The Esther Klein Gallery (EKG), which opened in 1977, uses the creative arts as a platform to explore
relationships between art, science and technology. EKG seeks to positively impact the cultural life of both
its immediate neighborhood of West Philadelphia and the broader Philadelphia community. EKG
programming is designed to explore the range of art, science and technology exhibitions, and includes
gallery talks, panel discussions, and education programs. For more information, visit
About Integral Molecular
Integral Molecular (www.integralmolecular.com) is the industry leader in discovering and characterizing
therapeutic antibodies against membrane proteins, an important group of drug targets found on the
surfaces of cells and viruses. Integral Molecular’s technologies have been integrated into the drug
discovery pipelines of over 400 biotech and pharmaceutical companies to help discover new therapies for
cancer, diabetes, auto-immune disorders and viral threats such as SARS-CoV-2, Ebola, Zika, and dengue