Please see below a media release and poster for an upcoming art exhibit that the Patterson lab has collaborated on. They have curated an aquarium representing a miniature lake. Living upon the sediments are Arcellinida: microscopic amoeba that we use as proxies for climate change, industrial impacts, land-use change and remediation.



Critical Distance is pleased to present The Amoebic Workshop: A Submerged Exhibition,curated by Astarte Rowe and featuring countless living Mediolus corona amoebas in an aquarium habitat, plus artworks by Jessica Drenk (US), Gabriel Lalonde (Canada), and Claudia Wieser (Germany).

Taking the great Renaissance workshops of Michelangelo, del Sarto, and Veronese as a point of departure, The Amoebic Workshop is an experimental, multidisciplinary exhibition that restages the Old Masters’ studios at a microscopic scale, where single-celled amoebas industriously, and invisibly, craft intricate shells for themselves that embody a uniquely visual aesthetic. Conversely the artists in this exhibition demonstrate tendencies toward the ‘amoebic’ through artworks involving found components, altered and/or assembled with an affinity to natural processes and concepts. Unlike the Renaissance workshops that galvanised a belief in Humanism, The Amoebic Workshop questions human claims to exclusivity in making art, design, and architecture. However it is not the amoeba that is elevated to the rank of ‘artist,’ but art itself that is qualified as amoebic. To quote philosopher Elizabeth Grosz: “Art is of the animal;” hence, “what is most artistic in us is that which is most bestial.” The introduction of a living organism into the gallery space reconfigures the relationship between human and animal acts of creation, submerging the exhibition into the virtual realm of the amoebic.

This exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog with essay by Astarte Rowe and contributions by sociologist Myra J. Hird (Queen’s University), who studies Canadian waste management and micro-ontology from an interdisciplinary perspective; poet and philosopher of digital ontology, Justin Clemens (University of Melbourne); and animal biologist Michael Hansell (University of Glasgow). The curator wishes to acknowledge Professor Timothy Patterson’s Earth Sciences Laboratory at Carleton University, and Andrew Macumber, Braden Gregory, and Nawaf Nasser, the graduate students who harvested and cultured the amoebas in the exhibition. Support for this exhibition is also generously provided by Holiday Inn Mississauga, Kula Annex, OVSC, HHO Green Tech, and H2O Clinic.


Mediolus corona are unicellular amoebas that construct their intricate shells from materials found in their environment. Identified in 2014 by the Earth Sciences laboratory of Professor Timothy Patterson at Carleton University, they inhabit freshwater and terrestrial bodies worldwide. This is their first exhibition in 720 million years.

Jessica Drenk received her MFA in 3D Art from the University of Arizona. A recipient of the Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center, Drenk has work in the collections of Yale University Art Gallery and Fidelity Investments. She is represented by Adah Rose Gallery in Maryland.

Gabriel Lalonde is a poet and self-taught visual artist based in Coteau-du-Lac, Québec. Maker of images, sculptures, installations, and poems, he has exhibited widely in galleries, art fairs, and exhibitions in Europe and North America.

Claudia Wieser is based in Berlin and has exhibited widely in Europe (including The Drawing Room, London; Petit Palais, Paris, and KIOSK, Ghent) and in New York (Hauser & Wirth, and The Drawing Center, among others). She holds an MA in Painting from the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich and is represented by Marianne Boesky Gallery, NY and Sies+Höke, Düsseldorf.

Astarte Rowe is an independent curator and scholar currently based in Toronto. She received her doctorate in Art History from the University of Melbourne. She has presented her research internationally and written for peer-reviewed journals on topics including anamorphosis and contemporary Indigenous art, desertification and Australian Aboriginal art discourse, and William Palmer and Newfoundland Regionalism.