SEREPENS: An Art-Science Collaboration

Installation view of 'Clonal Phoenix' in Robert Chambers' SEREPENS exhibit
in the AIRIE Nest at Everglades National Park.
Photo by Steven Brooke courtesy of AIRIE.

Robert Chambers, Miami-based sculptor, visited Archbold in 2018, together with artists from the Artists in Residence in Everglades, or AIRIE. He was enthralled by Dr. Warren Abrahamson’s studies of palmettos that show palmetto clones are ~ 5,000 years old, with some more than 8,000 years. Chambers delved into our insect collections to learn that more than 300 species visit palmetto flowers. Inspired, he dedicated his AIRIE residency to creating an exhibit SEREPENS: Serenoa repens. In a major divergence from his past work with large-scale metal sculptures, for SEREPENS he created a collection of ‘massive alien shapes’ in plastic. Working with the Robotics and Digital Fabrication Lab at Florida International University, he designed and printed 3D plastic (PLA) exhibits including two huge pyramidal studded black tubular forms, representing palmetto stems, massive model insects rising out of milled tabletops, and magnified 3D shapes of berries with geometric surfaces inspired by the underlying fruit structure. You can visit SEREPENS at the Everglades National Park Coe Visitor Center until June 1st. Click to learn more about the exhibit, the recent panel discussion about the exhibit at Miami’s Perez Art Museum, and listen to a SEREPENS podcast interview by Cathy Byrd.