Peter Krsko

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of the Arts, Departments of Biological Systems EngineeringArtDesign Studies and Physics welcomed bioinspired artist Peter Krsko as the Spring 2017 Interdisciplinary Artist in Residence.

The residency was focused on bioinspired materials, structures and systems. Krsko focused on interaction with students, project-oriented learning that led to development of new and original artwork and utilized the artwork to further promote the topic to the general public.

The goal of this residency was to develop novel concepts, methods and materials in order to create new artwork, and more importantly, advance new bioinspired solutions to current societal challenges. Krsko focused on student interaction, project-oriented learning and the development of new original artwork. This artwork was exhibited and published in an online resource, with the goal of continuing to educate the public about bioinspired systems after the residency’s conclusion.

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About the Artist

Peter Krsko headshotIn 2006, while working on a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Materials Science, Peter Krsko discovered a way to use a traditional scanning electron microscope as a focused electron beam lithography instrument, enabling him to create artwork viewable only with a microscope

After receiving his degree, Krsko was awarded a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, where his interests expanded into medically-relevant biological communities, bacterial biofilms, bioinspired materials, colors and vision and the combination of science and art in order to develop unique lesson plans for young students. He continues providing educational services to schools, summer camps, after-school programs and correctional facilities today.

Krsko also creates collaborative and community public art, such as sculptures and murals, inspired by biological concepts of diversity, differentiation, participation and co-ownership. He develops STEAM-based lesson plans for schools, summer camps, after-school programs and correctional facilities. His sculptural installations mimic the structure and form of natural entities as well as the dynamics and laws of interactions among members of the ecosystems. Krsko’s work has been presented in Honfleur Gallery, The Fridge DC Gallery, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Fermentation Festival, Sculptural Visions, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and other festivals and venues nationwide. His work has also been featured in BBC World NewsThe Washington Post and National Public Radio.


Biological Systems Engineering logo Art Department logo
Design Studies logo Department of Physics logo

Community Partners:

Olbrich Botanical Gardens logo Wormfarm Institute logo

Peter Krsko’s residency is presented by the UW-Madison Arts Institute and hosted by the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, with Sundaram Gunasekaran as lead faculty. Co-sponsors include the Departments of ArtDesign Studies and Physics.

The UW-Madison Arts Institute has hosted world-class artists in residence since 1995 and formally launched the Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program (IARP) in 1999. The IARP is made possible by funding from the university’s Office of the Provost.

Guest Artists

Karen Schofield headshotKatie Schofield combines traditional crocheting techniques with new material and hyperbolic geometries. The resulting sculptures share many similarities with sea coral, especially the large surface area to volume ratio. The corals, as organisms residing on the sea bottom, intake nutrients by filtering their environment. The more water they can filter through their bodies, the more nutrients they obtain.

Schofield explores unique ways to maximize the surface area of her pieces by group assemblies of hyperbolic shapes. Working with Schofield, the students will stretch their mathematical imagination literally into new dimensions.

Dan Steinhilber headshotDan Steinhilber is a sculptor, whose original approach to utilizing new sculptural material has been widely noted. His recent research and development in areas of robotics and mechanical systems is inspired by soft body organisms, such as jellyfish or unicellular organism. His artwork explores very similar approaches in order to reach new definition of shape and volume, whether static or dynamic.

Besides transforming two-dimensional shapes into three-dimensional objects, the students through Steinhilber’s lessons will also get a chance to investigate fluid mechanics, pressure gradients and how a system in equilibrium results in a mechanical movement.

Resources + Media Mentions


Art Installation featuring stretched green fabric in a wooded areaCourse: BSE 375 / Art 469/ Design Studies 469 – Interdisciplinary Studies in the Arts
 Zoethica: Bioinspired Art and Science
Day/Time: Tuesdays/Thursdays, 4:30 – 6:00 pm
Credits: 3
Limit: 18 students from any discipline
Prereq: None
Watch a promotional video for the course here.

Students will engage in a hands-on study of the natural world utilizing modern instrumentation. Krsko will guide students to observe natural materials, organisms and systems at micro-, meso- and macroscopic levels. During this process, students will analyze artistic and scientific approaches to studying nature and develop novel materials and systems based on natural concepts. The students will review current literature, engage in lab measurements and develop their own artwork (to be exhibited at the end of the semester) as well as creating bioinspired STEAM curricula for the Zoethica website.

Click here to download the course flyer (PDF). Access the course website at


  • Click here to view photos from the final residency event, “Zoethica” exhibition opening at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. You can view photo albums from Peter’s entire residency on SmugMug by clicking here.
  • Two additional events in May 2017 have been added to Peter’s roster for this residency! Explore our Events page for details.
  • A Peter Krsko installation exploring the geometry of the boundaries between flexible cells in space is now up in the Discovery Building, through May 8, 2017. Click here to view a photo of the piece.
  • Peter Krsko has created a site-specific installation at Birge Hall on campus, which will remain up through the end of the spring 2017 semester. Click here to view a photo of the install!
  • To recognize the visual and exploratory value of scientific imagery, the seventh annual Cool Science Image Contest is soliciting the best images from members of the UW-Madison community. Deadline: March 3, 2017


Artist Talk with Peter Krsko

March 1, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
Room L160, Elvehjem Building | 800 University Avenue

Art Department Visiting Artists Colloquium

Zoethica Opening Reception at the Wormfarm Institute

April 7, 2017 @ 6:00 – 9:00 pm
The Wormfarm Institute’s Woolen Mill Gallery | 28 E. Main Street, 2nd floor | Reedsburg, WI 53959

The audience got a preview of the artwork produced by Peter Krsko and visiting artists Katie Schofield and Dan Steinhilber with their students during a semester-long residency at UW Madison. The students from the course “Zoethica: Bioinspired Art and Science” presented their personal projects. The exhibition was on view from April 6 – April 29, 2017.

Workshop by Katie Schofield

April 8, 2017 @ 1:00 – 3:00 pm
The Wormfarm Institute’s Woolen Mill Gallery | 28 E. Main Street, 2nd floor | Reedsburg, WI 53959

Guest artist Katie Schofield led a workshop at The Wormfarm Institute‘s Woolen Mill Gallery. This workshop explored natural forms and participants created hyperbolic shapes using crocheting. Previous experience with crochet welcome, but not necessary. No registration required for this free workshop. Space is limited to 10. Participants in this event had the option to have their results from this workshop included in a site-specific art in Reedsburg, WI.

Meet the Artists

April 8, 2017 @ 3:00 pm
City Park | 222 N. Park Street, Reedsburg, WI 53959

Following the workshop with Katie Schofield earlier in the afternoon on April 8, the participants were encouraged to walk to the City Park to view a site-specific installation created as part of the gallery exhibit. The installation was on view from April 6 – May 31, 2017.

Gallery Night: Zoethica Opening at Olbrich Botanical Gardens

May 5, 2017 @ 5:00 – 9:00 pm
Olbrich Botanical Gardens | 3330 Atwood Avenue

Zoethica, an outdoor exhibition at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, opened on May 5, 2017 as part of MMoCA’s Gallery Night. This public installation featured bioinspired art by Peter Krsko, and his students. Refreshments provided. Zoethica was on view until August 6, 2017.

Explore the Science/Art Interface in the classroom and other learning spaces with Peter Krsko

May 10, 2017 @ 2:00 – 3:00 pm
H.F. DeLuca Forum, Discovery Building | 330 N. Orchard Street | Madison, WI, 53715

The art/science interface has been described as “a space for experimentation, for play, and for asking big questions in different ways,” with tangible benefits for both scientists and artists. Explore these ideas, and in particular their application to teaching, at an engaging presentation by Peter Krsko.

Peter’s background is in biophysics and materials science. With UW-Madison students enrolled in his course, he explores nature using scientific methods and together, they share their findings through artwork. They employ artistic methods to develop original solutions to scientific questions. Peter will present these projects and speak about their path into the interface of science and art. This is an opportunity for the art/science interface to provoke conversation and creative thought.

This event was co-hosted by the Delta Program in Research, Teaching and Learning, the UW-Madison Arts Institute, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the NSF funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.

Hands On Workshop, Madison Mini Maker Faire

May 13, 2017 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center | 1 John Nolen Drive | Madison, WI 53703

Peter Krsko held a Hands On Workshop at the 2017 Madison Mini Maker Faire.