After discussing with Justin Trottier and Katie Kish about doing a poster for PZ Myers' upcoming lecture here in Toronto, I knuckled down to think of some concepts.
PZ Myers is a big cephalopod in the atheist pond, and the C.F.I-sponsored lecture itself is scheduled for Hallowe'en. I played with some rough ideas of having PZ wearing a mask made out of zebrafish, perhaps with a halo of cephalopod arms behind his head.
PZ's personality and yes, celebrity is huge amongst science and atheist minded bloggers. It would be easy enough. I scribbled down some roughs.
But the focus of the lecture from its title is not a smug chuckle and a laugh at how wrong creationists are when discussing biology (or history, or morals, or the universe, or transubstantiated baking). The focus is much more serious, it is about science education being under threat. Perhaps there is less of a young-Earth creationist view here in Ontario, and yet we are still under sway of separate Catholic and secular school systems. Some citizens would like more religious schools to be allowed by the provincial government.
I say no. One school system for all, with kids raised in multiple belief systems. It's how tolerance starts, it's how diversity and dialogue thrive. Besides, there's more room for learning without being interrupted for prayers all day.
Canada is a cultural mosaic, and Toronto the capital of that ideal. Take the Dundas or College streetcar and pass through cultures from across the globe in 30 minutes. Besides, there's more room for learning without being interrupted for prayers all day.
So: PZ's poster. It needed to be serious and about the topic, not a poster about the foibles of this entertaining, important writer and scientist. Not a witty attempt at a portrait. Something about science under threat by religion. I hope there will be another day to show Myers the man through oil paint.
I started by thinking about that perennial symbol of school: the apple on a teacher's desk.
I had the sketch.
Then, painting it, not making the snake anything specific, but looking like it had coalesced out of a nightmare. A child's hand reaching up. A little double helix pattern on a tree branch.
We mucked around with the text. I wanted PZ's name and the title to be huge. It needs to catch the eye while posted on university and college bulletin boards and around town.
In my first presentation of this poster here on The Flying Trilobite, I wondered how people interpreted it. Artist-teacher Bond got it right. And Bora of A Blog Around the Clock had an interesting take in a recent email exchange: "Michaelangelo's God from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and PZ's post on the evolution of segmentation in snakes!"
Does it do the C.F.I & PZ's topic justice? Is the religious/secular symbolism confusing? Are you craving a crisp macintosh right about now?
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