Where Art and Science Meet

Dr. Juan Lopez-Bautista's artwork.
Dr. Juan Lopez-Bautista’s artwork.

Though Dr. Juan Lopez-Bautista, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, completed his graduate and doctoral degrees in biology more than 15 years ago, he is far from done with his formal education.

Back in the classroom as a master’s student once more, Lopez-Bautista is now studying abstract painting in UA’s Department of Art and Art History.

“I have been painting most of my life,” Lopez-Bautista said. “In the beginning, I painted still lifes, pretty flowers, and landscapes, but more and more, as I’ve questioned why I do what I do, I’ve detached from reality and objects, and have gone to work in abstraction.”

Abstraction, Lopez-Bautista says, allows him to move beyond objects and what he sees, allowing him to interpret his paintings in a personally meaningful way. By analyzing the body of his work as a whole, he says he’s been able to learn more about himself and come to understand how he feels about things like his Mexican heritage, politics, discrimination, and adaptation.

Lopez-Bautista’s particular style of abstraction is something he calls “organic abstraction” because many of the shapes that he uses have ties to living forms—like cells and amoebas.
“I am a scientist,” Lopez-Bautista said. “Science and the work I do—especially with macroscopic algae—influences everything I do and shows up in all my work. Even if, in appearances, art and science are two completely different fields, there are an incredible amount of similarities. You cannot be a good scientist if you are not creative enough.” ■