Behold, The Madonnas of Science

Currently on display at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: the work of artist Chris Shaw, who re-imagines historical depictions of the Virgin Mary swaddling not wee baby Jesus, but an atom inspired by the discovery of the Higgs Boson, an armillary sphere, and a red, writhing squid. Bonus: admission is free.

Boing Boing's Ben Marks gives us a brief bio on Shaw and the status of SFMOMA:

As the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art prepares to shutter its South of Market location for the next three years, during which it will spend almost half a billion dollars to more than double its size for the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, the museum’s restaurant on Third Street closes out its more modest exhibition program with nine acrylic-on-canvas paintings by Chris Shaw, on view through June 3, 2013.

Best known locally for his rock posters, Shaw has used his swan-song time slot to present a series of vividly colored Madonnas, each based on Madonnas by such 15th century artists as Bellini, Botticelli, and Ambrogio de Predis. For Shaw, the Madonna is just another propaganda icon, a vessel to be filled up with whatever one is trying to sell. [Ed. Note: Though I think it's fair to say this interpretation is geared more toward Shaw's depictions of "Madonna and Kalishnakov" and "Madonna and Colt 45" than it is his Madonnas of Science. Then again, maybe I'm just more inclined to swallow the pill of scientific propaga – oooooh, I see what you did, there.]

On his website, Shaw explains his depiction of Madonna and the Particle:

This paint­ing is inspired by the recent sci­en­tific con­fir­ma­tion of the Higgs-Boson “GOD” par­ti­cle, the sup­posed sub-atomic build­ing block that gives all mat­ter mass. The name itself is enough to war­rant the cre­ation of a Mod­ern Icon. In this piece, I cre­ated a geo­met­ric foun­da­tion using shapes, curves, and ratios found in nature, and fit the fig­ure into it. The icon is also based on the types of geom­e­try found in sub atomic par­ti­cle col­li­sions, it will fit snugly into the actual image of a par­ti­cle col­li­sion which cre­ated a “God” par­ti­cle. While the paint­ing is not intended as a black-light piece, it does take full advan­tage of the flu­o­res­cent spec­trum, metal­lic col­ors, and unveils phos­pho­res­cent effects in total darkness.

Other Madonnas of Science include the Madonna of the Microscope, Madonna of Evolution, and Madonna of the Magnet, seen below. You can check out the whole lineup (including the Madonnas of Colt 45 and the Kalishnakov) on Shaw's website.

Behold, The Madonnas of Science

Behold, The Madonnas of Science

Behold, The Madonnas of Science

[Spotted on Boing Boing]