Summer 2024 SVA Fellow Petra Marguerite

May 3, 2024


Courtesy photo
Petra Marguerite in her studio.


The University of New Mexico-Taos Department of Fine Arts, Film, and Digital Media is pleased to announce the summer 2024 recipient of the UNM-Taos/School of Visual Arts Residency Fellowship—Petra Marguerite. Petra will be attending the four-week Bio Art Residency in New York City.

The UNM-Taos/SVA Residency Fellowship is a fully funded opportunity for one current UNM-Taos student to attend a four-to-five-week residency in New York City. The student will have a private studio space in the heart of New York City's Chelsea Art Gallery District and access to various sculpture and printing facilities in the BFA Fine Arts Department. Students work directly with several faculty, receiving feedback on their work and art world mentorship. The residency culminates in a public exhibition. They stay in student housing and receive monetary support for art supplies and daily expenses, including museum tickets. Petra was accepted to the Bio Art and Contemporary Practices residency programs, and due to her extensive background in science, she has chosen to attend Bio Art.

Located in the heart of New York City’s Chelsea Art Gallery District, this interdisciplinary residency takes place in the SVA Bio Art Laboratory, a fusion of a centuries-old cabinet of curiosities with a state-of-the-art biotechnology laboratory, which houses specimen collections, aquariums and a variety of microscopes, as well as an art and science library. Hands-on laboratory practices and discussions will introduce students to the emerging field of biological arts.

Demonstrations include microscopic imaging, growing 2D and 3D biomaterials, painting with bacteria, culturing organisms and designing micro-ecosystems, working with bioluminescence, bioplastics and molecular gastronomy techniques. Discussion topics range from bioethics, genetic manipulation, climate change and sustainability. The program is led by artist and chair of the BFA Fine Arts Department Suzanne Anker along with Tarah Rhoda, manager of the Bio Art Laboratory. Faculty and visiting speakers include artists, scientists and museum professionals.

Petra is a Taos-based artist born in Albuquerque and raised in Vienna, Austria. She studied chemistry at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland thinking she would end up in pharmaceuticals and cash out. While she maintained an art practice during her studies, she became creatively starved and made it her mission to connect the worlds of science and art.

After graduating, she moved back to New Mexico to pursue her art and education career. She has taught science and art at the secondary school level, and currently teaches at a Waldorf preschool, where she puts the science-art connection into practice. Themes in Petra’s work include intuition, feminine and masculine ways of knowing, and intellectual sovereignty. While she is a process-based, mixed media artist, her work is rooted in abstract figurative painting, drawing and line art. She works primarily with acrylic paint and ballpoint pen on found paper and objects, occasionally branching off into the sculpture of recontextualized objects.

Petra’s current body of work explores the suppression of intuition and feminine ways of knowing in modern scientific research. By painting playful pink birds over the niche science research Journal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design, she bridges feminine intuition with the hypermasculine world of science and protests, the patriarchal dogma that “science = truth,” which robs the validity of individual experience. Her work is inspired by Native American ledger art: colorful pictures drawn over 19th-century seller ledgers to protest the colonization of Native lands and minds. Birds symbolize intellectual freedom and are inspired by surrealist games of automatic drawing, designed to release the rational mind and access intuition. She also draws inspiration from the famous organic chemist August Kekulé, who intuitively discovered the benzene ring structure by dreaming of an ouroboros: a snake eating its tail. This is a symbol that she appropriates to demonstrate the true importance of intuition in scientific discovery.

The School of Visual Art Artist Residencies offer artists, designers and creative thinkers time, space and a supportive community to develop ideas and focus on their artistic direction with summer programs on campus in New York City, as well as year-round in online formats. A unique combination of creative and professional resources provides a rich environment for growth and opportunity in the current, vibrant art scene. On-campus housing is available, as are opportunities to display work. Students also receive college credit for their participation.