Dana Plesa Biography

Dana Plesa was born in Sibiu, Romania and received her scientific training at Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. She worked for 9 years as an art conservator at the National History Museum of Transylvania, Romania, before immigrating to Canada in 2004. After working at Koyman Galleries in Ottawa, in 2012, she joined Farrington, Lockwood Company Limited as a Research Chemist.

Guided by her knowledge of chemistry and physics, Dana manipulates chemicals and the reaction environment to challenge how elements interact with each other. The colour change as well as the fluid motion caused by the energy of the reactions “paints” eye-catching art from science.

“All my life I was on the edge between science and art; I found myself intrigued and excited by both of them. This art, where the perception of science and creativity are intimately connected, represents who I am.”

My Process: The images that you see are macro photographs of chemically reactive liquids in motion, crystals dissolving in solutions, or particles (5 μm in size) interacting with the environmental fluids that I use to “shape” my compositions.

I create these images using my knowledge of the physical and chemical properties of the reactive liquids (some of them were synthesised in our lab), and by varying the viscosity and surface tension of the environment surrounding the reaction site. The colour comes from pigments that change colour as a consequence of the chemical reaction.

Adobe Lightroom is my choice for clean up (sometimes dust particles land on my reaction site), to crop and balance the colours, but not to change what was captured by camera. Sometimes I use mirroring and layering techniques (Photoshop) to create a composition.
The challenges in capturing these pictures of subjects, which are too small, too fast, and too difficult to see with the naked eye, is the lighting and the lack of control over the outcome (where the reaction starts and where the liquids flow).

Sometimes I use a flat glass surface with a viscous liquid (like glycerin) on top as the medium for the chemical reaction. Other times I use a glass cuvette with one, two or three liquids with different properties that may or may not be favourable for the reaction (depending on the effect that I want in my composition).

This is the fascinating world of chemical reactions and physical phenomena, which are integral to life itself.