Near Bay Ridge, Artists Create One-of-a-Kind “SciArt” Space

From Spontaneous Emergence of Order‘s opening event. Bardo in foreground.

BioBAT, a 501(c)(3) based in the Brooklyn Army Terminal that develops and leases affordable space to growing science and technology companies, sought to link the community to the creative aspects of its endeavors through a dedicated art space. So it appointed Bay Ridge artists and educators Jeannine Bardo and Elena Soterakis its artistic directors, and their inaugural exhibition, Spontaneous Emergence of Order, opened on January 4. 

The show’s title would also seem to apply to Bardo and Soterakis’s personal stories. Jeannine Bardo is a studio artist, area educator and administrator. You might’ve attended one of the many exhibitions Bardo has put on under the name Stand, which initially created popup exhibitions in local businesses throughout the neighborhood and now has its own space (Stand4) in an old doctor’s office, at 414 78th Street. 

Much of Bardo’s studio work incorporates her immediate surroundings in (what remains of) its natural state. “My current work focuses on humanity’s constant struggle for control of the natural world,” according to her artist statement. With the same attention to the environment, Elena Soterakis makes use of the grandeur of the landscape painting reminiscent of the Hudson River School while bringing into focus the ecological dangers now present in these once pastoral scenes. 

Tanya Chaly’s “Fever,” on display at BioBAT

With similar interests in the studio and beyond (Soterakis is also an educator), the artists began working together in 2016. As the visual arts community widened in Bay Ridge, their relationship got closer. “When Kathleen Otto and Eva Kramer of BioBAT set out to create a new SciArt exhibtion space in their ground floor lobby, they were community-oriented and wanted to bring in South Brooklyn artists,” Bardo tells us. “I was introduced to them through Bay Ridge artist Ellen Coleman Izzo who worked with them on a community art project. She thought I would be a good fit because of the work I have accomplished at Stand4 and my background in art education. I was excited about the space and its possibilities, but I was concerned about being spread too thin. I didn’t want it to conflict with my own work at Stand4 and my studio practice, and that is when I reached out to Elena. 

“Elena was the perfect collaborator because of her own interest in SciArt and how she incorporates it into her artistic practice. She is also an incredible curator and administrator, and she had a list of artists she has wanted to work with from the beginning. Everything just fell into place, and the whole experience has been both fun and exciting.”

Focused on the intersection between science and art, BioBAT is the only brick-and-mortar exhibition space for SciArt in New York. Atop the art programming, Bardo and Soterakis hope to develop educational programming and make the BioBAT Art Space a destination for area children to explore the often separate fields of science and art as a unified idea. 

Tanya Chaly’s “Cascade-Index,” on display at BioBAT. Photo by Nicholas Knight Studio

“I am fascinated by the connection between science and art,” Soterakis says. “My art explores themes of disposability and impending ecological disaster, and as a result, I closely follow the SciArt Community. Jeannine and I felt that there was a great deal of curatorial alchemy that occurred during the planning of this show, and, like a form of natural selection, these artists [we selected] stood apart from the pack. They make interesting connections and seek to understand the world around us by incorporating in-depth research, observation, and experimentation in their work.”

A free-form sculpture composed of blood and collagen, re-rendered projections of crystallized tears, woven upcycled webs of communal detritus and drawings illustrating the macro and micro relationships within ecosystems all made their way into the show. The artists—Tanya Chaly, Tarah Rhoda, Magdalena Dukiewicz and Richelle Gribble—have set their practices in the States (mostly NY, save for the LA-based Gribble), but they originally come from as far away as Australia, Holland and Poland. 

Spontaneous Emergence of Order is not only a scientific term that unifies the themes explored by the extraordinary artists featured in our space,” according to the curatorial statement; “it also captures the synchronistic and serendipitous way this show came to fruition and the curatorial alchemy that occurred during its creation.” 

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The exhibition will be on view until March 3, Monday to Saturday, 12–6pm, and by appointment. 

The BioBAT art space is accessed through the main entrance—Building A, BioBAT South. It’s most easily reached by the ferry!
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