Bex's current focus is on creating a new series of mixed media paintings highlighting the art and history of inventions.
Intellectual property is all around us. Almost everything we depend on in our daily lives is a product of creativity and problem solving. It is artistic genius hidden in plain sight. Inventors take thoughts to new levels, promoting and building upon human progress. Isaac Newton said "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants".
This series has a particular focus on women scientists, engineers, and inventors. Most of us are probably familiar with famous inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell (Inventor of the telephone), Steve Jobs (Inventor of the iPhone), and Galileo (Inventor of the telescope), but how many great women inventors do you know?
Bluestocking - a dangerously intellectual woman
In 1869, when women first enrolled at a university in Britain, they were dismissed as strange eccentrics. Mocked by some, reviled by others. Doctors warned women that if they studied too hard their wombs would wither and die. Essentially warning, if women went to university they would give up their only social function - to breed.
When first admitted into universities, women were shunted into dusty back rooms and denied the right to an actual degree. In fact, Cambridge university denied formal degrees to women until 1947. While men left universities with degrees and prospects, women left with the stigma of being called a “Bluestocking” - a derogatory term for an educated woman.
This painting is to honor all the women who came before us, who pushed boundaries, who struggled against not only sexism, but classism, racism and other obstacles in order to be taken seriously.
Today when you have a baby you are asked if you want to collect and save the stem cells from your baby’s umbilical cord upon delivery. This is done because the hope is, as more research develops, stem cells can potentially save someone in your family’s life.
We owe this to Dr. Ann Tsukamoto, her husband Professor Ir Weissman, and their colleagues, who were the first scientists to identify and isolate blood-forming stem cells. Ann and her team’s discovery for stem cell isolation was awarded patent No. 5,061,620 in 1991. Their research discovered that a blood stem cell (or bone marrow) transplant can replace a damaged immune system in a person with blood cancer. This discovery gave people with blood cancer another chance at life, and has since saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
Ann Tsukamoto has since received twelve related patents for her research in understanding the circulatory systems of cancer patients, slowly inching the field closer to a cure. In the background of this painting is Ann's patent No. 5,061,620. This painting is in memory and honor for those who have battled blood cancer, and is offered as a message of hope.
Our feelings can be overwhelming, sometimes hard to express. Sometimes we feel like we are being controlled, like a puppet. We search and turn to different outlets, seeking an "escape". This new mixed media painting represents this. The boy escapes into the woods alone at night, releasing 'fireflies', which are his feelings in Mandarin characters. Inside the boy is a marionette, invented by Hazelle H. Rollins (Patent No. 2,788,609). A fire escape is in the trees, invented by Anna Connelly (Patent No. 368,816).
The background of this mixed media painting is the original patent for monopoly, invented by Elizabeth Maggie Phillips. Monopoly was originally titled "The Landlords Game". Maggie invented monopoly as a way to teach children about the evils of unchecked capitalism. In the background is Patent No. 1,509, 312, originally patented in 1904.
This mixed media painting is the story of Jeanne Villepreux-Power. Jeanne was an industrious woman, a self-taught scientist, an artist, and perhaps most notably - the inventor of the aquarium. She invented not one, but three types of aquariums in her lifetime. However, she never received proper recognition for her work. This was mostly due to a tragic shipwreck in 1843, that carried her research and books to the bottom of the ocean.
Jeanne’s life was somewhat of a tragic fairy-tale. She married well and could have lived a life of leisure. But she didn’t. Instead, she chose to roll up her sleeves and became a scientist. Jeanne and her husband lived on the island of Sicily, and she fell in love with the environment of the island, in particular it’s aquatic life. She traveled around the island collecting specimens of shells and studied countless fish and cephalopods including nautilus, cuttlefish, and octopus.
Jeanne was not satisfied with merely studying dead specimens. She was excited by life and its mysteries and wanted to bring these enchanting sea creatures inside. So in 1832 she invented the aquarium. She designed not one, but three different types of aquaria.
In 1843, most of her marine collections, written records, and scientific research were lost in a tragic shipwreck. Not all of her discoveries were forgotten, thanks to previous publications and other researchers. In biology circles, Jeanne is known as the “Mother of Aquariophily”.
This painting is to honor this incredible woman - a woman ahead of her time. The image on the bottom left is an imprint of Jeanne's own artwork. The title in the “iceberg” is from her first book “Observations et expériences physiques sur plusieurs animaux marins et terrestres” (Observations and Experiments on Several Marine and Terrestrial Animals), published in 1839. The girl in the boat touching the whale is Jeanne exploring as a young woman. Jeanne’s portrait is in the moon.