Archive of Author | Elaine Whittaker

Elaine Whittaker is a Canadian visual artist. She considers biology as contemporary art practice. Her artworks are an intersection of art, science, medicine and ecology. Her practice is based principally in installation and includes sculpture, painting, drawing, and digital imagery, incorporating a range of materials: from the traditional – paint, pigment and wax, to the unconventional – mosquitoes, salt crystals, human cells, and live microorganisms.

Whittaker has exhibited nationally and internationally, including among others, Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), Ontario Science Centre (Toronto, Canada), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Canada), MUSA Museum of Salt (Cervia, Italy), Science Gallery London (UK), Riddoch Art Gallery (Mount Gambier, Australia), Harcourt House (Edmonton, Canada), Fudan University Science Gallery, (Shanghai, China), Gwacheon National Science Museum (Seoul, South Korea), Islip Art Museum (Long Island, US), Science Gallery Dublin (Ireland), Plug In Institute for Contemporary Art (Winnipeg, Canada), Yukon Arts Centre Gallery (Whitehorse, Canada), McMaster Museum of Art (Hamilton, Canada), the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (US), Kunsthaus Santa Fe (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico), and the Red Head Gallery (Toronto, Canada).

Whittaker has been an invited participant in residencies, workshops and festivals on science, art and medicine, and a featured artist on digital galleries including Art the Science, MEDinART, and Photomediations Machine. Artworks have been highlighted in literary, art, and medical periodicals and magazines, including Hamilton Arts & Letters, Interalia Magazine, SciArt Magazine, E-Squared Magazine, VLAK, Wreck Park, Clot Magazine and Tussle Magazine. Her work is also featured in William Myers’ BioArt: Altered Realities, published by Thames & Hudson (2015). In 2018 she was the first Artist-in-Residence with the Ontario Science Centre (Toronto). She is currently Artist-in-Residence at the Pelling Laboratory for Augmented Biology (University of Ottawa), and has participated in two residences at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity (Alberta). She is a recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council, and holds a BFA in Visual Art from York University, Toronto, an Art Diploma from Toronto School of Art, and BA in Anthropology from Carleton University, Ottawa. She is represented by the Red Head Gallery in Toronto, Canada.

Articles with Elaine Whittaker


Inspired by an aesthetic in which art, science, medicine and ecology intersect, Elaine Whittaker’s art practice considers biology as contemporary art practice. Based principally in installation, sculpture, painting, drawing and digital imagery, her artworks incorporate a range of materials: from the traditional, such as paint, pigment and wax, to the unconventional, such as mosquitoes, salt crystals, cells and live microorganisms. They have been exhibited nationally and internationally, in art and science galleries, and featured in literary, medical and art magazines, including William Myers’ book, Bio Art: Altered Realities (2015). In this article she reflects on Contained, her 2018 exhibition, and the effects of illness on identity as experienced by her mother when she contracted Tuberculosis at an early age.

Shiver (and more)

Visual artist Elaine Whittaker considers biology as contemporary art practice. Her artworks are an intersection of art, science, medicine and ecology, exploring the forces that make us human, from the foundational processes and materials needed to form an organism, to the microscopic world of cellular ecologies. Her practice is principally based in installation, and includes sculpture, painting, drawing, digital imagery and sound. Recent works have centred on the aesthetics of disaster, the fear of pandemics, and on the body as a site of infection reflecting narratives and elements of anxiety that are found in popular culture, scientific research, and personal experience.

I Caught it at The Movies

Have you walked out of a pandemic movie lately with the hair raised on the back of your neck? Elaine Whittaker’s, I Caught it at The Movies, is a mixed media installation of digital images, painting and live bacteria that blurs the boundaries between what is real and what is manufactured, what is animate and what is inanimate.