In his current solo exhibit, The Cellular Universe through Stained Glass, on display through December 17 at Harvard Medical School, Emmanuel's Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology has truly fused art and science—both in the process of creating the work and in its subject matter.
Drawing inspiration from his experiences as a scientist and a professor, work associated with Nobel Prizes in chemistry, physiology or medicine and important human diseases, the 11 stained glass pieces in this show display scientifically accurate cellular and protein structures, among other iconic images of science. "The scientific accuracy of the artwork is important," Dr. Kowit says in his artist statement. "Scientific honesty is fundamental to good science and these artworks can facilitate learning science—a form of knowledge visualization."
"I would like it if a scientist comes to work, sees the sun shining through one of these pieces, and feels inspired and valued; if a non-scientist appreciates them for their artistic qualities, becomes curious and wants to know more; and if young people look at these and start asking questions, especially questions that we never thought of and to which we don't know the answers." - Joel Kowit
Dr. Kowit spent 41 years in the biology department at Emmanuel College before retiring in 2016, and for three decades has trained research scientists—using several hundred scientific illustrations he has created—as founder and director of Immunology Workshops. With no formal art training, he held solo exhibitions of his paintings before turning a sporadic interest in glassblowing into this synthesis of design, science and art.
For his stained glass, Dr. Kowit has been named the Breakthrough Artist of the Year by the Council for the Arts in Lexington, MA, and his work has been used as cover images for a 2017 edition of The Biochemical Journal and a 2019 edition of the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology (ATVB).