Calcium Cavern

Calcium Cavern

Digital Painting, 33" x 22"

The bacteria living in the aquatic cavern of the mouth, simultaneously exposed to the harsh outer world when our lips open, and a dark, nurturing one near the throat, have adapted to a variety of conditions. In Calcium Cavern, I use the different parts of a watery cave to illustrate the role of bacteria in the microbiome of the human mouth. These metaphors are explored more deeply in the detailed images below.

Detail Images

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Some of the bacteria living in the mouth can cause tooth and gum decay, rotting away at the stalactites of the mouth. However, some of the organisms living here are essential to our health. They help us break down the food we eat, giving us access to the energy from meals the same way plants use sunlight to provide us with oxygen. Every meal you eat is one you share with the different bacterial species living in your mouth, an inter-species communion between humans and microorganisms.

Digital Painting, 16" x 9"

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The bacteria in the mouth are like aquatic plants, growing between the toothy rocks of the mouth and feeding on the nutrients washed their way by our saliva when we eat. Just as plants compete for sunlight, bacteria also compete for our food. Species such as Streptococcus salivarius likely contribute to keeping our breath smelling good, when they are not smothered out by the weeds of other bacterial species.

Digital Painting, 16" x 9"