Art and science join forces in David Goodsell’s colorful drawings and paintings, which depict various phenomena in molecular biology. Using watercolor and ink, Goodsell carefully shows how cells merge and mingle, and gives us a greater understanding of how the microcosms within us work.
As the artist is also a practicing molecular biologist, he merges his interests as a way to imagine what these interactions between cells, or cells and pathogens, might be like. As new discoveries are currently being made around molecular structures, Goodsell is using his imagination to explore what the inside of a cell might look like. While Goodsell chooses not to simplifying unknown areas with shapes, he remains cautious to do so with the upmost accuracy.
A virus penetrates a cell membrane in Nanotransport Virus (2014), and injects its information into the host. A different color characterizes each piece of the molecular puzzle so that it’s easy to distinguish the interior and exterior worlds of the cell. Goodsell has also carefully layered the molecules and other biological substances within the cell so that one can fathom the depth and intricacy of this small universe. In Nanotransport Vesicle, (2014) Goodsell renders his idea of the small organelle carrying out a function within the body. Through use of abstract, graphic shapes, and a differentiation in color—warmer within the vesicle and cooler outside of it—we glean an idea of how these small, self-contained bodies cooperate within a larger whole.
Goodsell says that he tries to blur the lines between the images he creates using a computer and those he hand draws, as his composite computer images are similar in color and style to his illustrations. By drawing these images, Goodsell believes he has greater insight to how cells might work, and is able to easily present his ideas to others.
“In my own work, the combination of art and science gives me a way to access the wonder of nature,” says Goodsell. “It makes me really look at results and think about them in a deeper way.”