Ana MacArthur

Pollinator Concentrator is a site-specific, interspecies installation addressing the concern of pollinator decline and designed to radiate awareness of pollinators locally and broadly. Approaching the installation’s site a pole appears above a lush field of 4 ft. tall rye grass as if an antenna drawing one near. Surrounding the antenna is an undulation of landscape covered with short grass leading into its focal point, a ten foot, buried parabolic dish. The antenna inside the dish functions like a sundial, elaborating on the relationship amongst the shadow of the antenna, the hour of day, and the alignment with specific tiles as a measurement of time. The parabolic surface is lined with tiles of a series of pollinator species referencing a larger diversity. The tiles are dyed a range of blues incorporating symbolism, as, in the human’s visible range, blue is at the edge of the short wavelengths, and symbolically it calls in meditation, spaciousness, and depth of thought. On specific nights the edge of the parabolic will glow in ultraviolet light, using this frequency to attracts insects and some pollinators. This encounter potentially increases one’s ability to study and thus respect many minute creatures, and their roles, that otherwise go unnoticed.


About the artist

MacArthur’s trans-disciplinary practice functions as a creative catalyst by excavating nature’s processes and connected metaphors through the specific lens’s of life’s relationship to light, environmental intelligence, and appropriate technology. MacArthur’s history in working with light based technologies, has evolved to increasing work immersed in the natural world. For years, her projects have evolved from collaborations with scientists, and are manifest in installations using light based media and site-specific projects. Formerly a key member of the Museum of Holography in NYC, she co-founded and was a 20-year pioneer in a dichromate holography lab from which she produced many individual works.

  • In Search of the Collaborative Part I&II
    In Search of the Collaborative Blue Fringe
    A Light Touch:On the Future of Mapping
    Archival Fringes Revisited; Water
    Where Light Meets Water; Mumuru on the Equator
  • Tenuous Seed to Riparian Fertility
    A Journey Through Bui-Bui

skills applied

  • Environmental science
  • Optics and light
  • Biomimicry
  • 3D modeling


"My interest in the mixing of art, science, technology, and environmental knowledge came from a drive of curiosity. I have always been motivated to understand the alchemy of how things transform in nature and in technology. At a very young age I recognized my obsession with light, as I always moved my chair into the sunlight in the room. I discovered the thrill of collaborating with scientists while in art school in my early 20’s as I explored bringing light through clay by working with ceramic engineers who equally inspired me because of their curiosity about my ‘problem’. Living in NY City in the early 80’s I discovered the magical light of holograms and with the burning desire to make them I built with a partner one of the few dichromate holography labs. In a 20-year chapter as a pioneer in this field with holograms and lasers it expanded my knowledge of the physics of light by hands on trial and error. The nanostructure of the holographic film and its transformation of light influenced thinking about biological skins use of sunlight. Turning to a new century at 2000 the combined effects of climate change and species loss were tugging at me. At this turning point I studied biomimicry with Janine Benyus, finding it incorporated my interest in honoring and closely studying nature for ecological solutions. It was at this same juncture that I devised teaching youth about biomimicry through art as my form of ecological activism. The work with the blue morpho and other butterflies allowed me to explore their unusual interaction with light, and potential ecological solutions to be derived from their properties. The parabolic form of Pollinator Concentrator, like a lens, is a metaphor for concentrating our attention on the necessity to protect our pollinators. I encourage you to visit the work at night to study differing insects/ pollinators attracted to the UV light on the dish. Explore the tiles of mostly local pollinators in the parabolic dish as a library to learn about these unusual creatures and the valuable work they are doing for us. We can be better stewards of our biodiversity if we first learn to notice who is there. Go to the STEAM Wiki below to dive into some fun explorations related to pollinators preservation, the role of UV light, and sundials." Ana MacArthur

STEMarts Design Tool

The Stemarts Design Tool provides a step-by-step tool to show you how to engage with the Pollinator Concentrator, a site-specific interspecies installation at the Rio Fernando Park created by BioSTEAM Lab artist, Ana MacArthur. Explore the artist page to learn about the installation to understand its purpose and how it works. Research the science and technology behind the art. Experiment with our hands-on STEAM activities to learn about pollinators and biomimicry. Create your own polarizing viewers to learn the science behind how insects see. Take a field trip to experience the Pollinator Concentrator in person! Create art inspired by the artist's installation and the topic of biodiversity and contribute to citizen science projects. Be part of the solution! This tool will take you through each stage of the process. Just click on Explore to get started!

Explore the invisible relationships between light and our environment

Ana MacArthur makes art that speaks to the relationship between environmental intelligence, the study of light and applied technologies. In Pollinator Concentrator she asks us to be aware of pollinator decline while creating a site-specific land art installation that acts as an access point for metaphor as well as a pollinator garden and water catchment system that nourishes local pollinators. Ana’s history in working with light and light based technologies, has evolved to artworks increasingly immersed in the natural world. Her projects have developed from collaborations with scientists and are manifest in installations using light based media and site-specific projects. Explore Ana MacArthur’s Artist Page to learn about her work.

Research the science and technology behind the work

Animals have developed unique ways of seeing. For example, many animals see Ultra Violet light. Pollinators like bees and butterflies navigate using the position of the sun through our polarized atmosphere. Even bats use polarized light to navigate at night by the light of the Milky Way!  Scientists are mimicking these natural mechanisms to find solutions to real world problems. Dive into the STEAM Wiki to find more science, projects, and other cool stuff on the relationship of how pollinators see and their environment.

Experiment with mimicry of nature

A major theme in Ana MacArthur’s work is biomimicry. Biomimicry is an innovative approach to design that emulates natural systems and strategies to create sustainable solutions to the world’s challenges. How do insects see and how can we apply this to our design? Brainstorm some solutions to real world problems such as pollinator species decline inspired by nature. Create napkin sketches to collect and share your experimental solutions.

Make something to see the invisible

Create your own polarized light viewer inspired by pollinators and how they use light to navigate and find food. Use the STEAM wikis below to make your own polariscope, polarized mosaic, sun compass or other instrument for seeing the invisible qualities of light that are in our everyday experiences. Test out your creation inside and outside the classroom! See how insects see following the sun with your viewer. What do you observe? What difference do you observe inside and outside?  

STEAM wiki

The STEAM-Wiki is a place to get started with your artist research. You will find links to articles, images, video, and tutorials that are out there on the web that relate to Ana MacArthur's work.

You can search by clicking on the links below or you can click on the topic words in the word cloud for specific areas of interest. For example, ENVIRONMENTAL ART INSTALLATION to see more examples of this type of art. If you are looking for STEM + Art activities type in STEAM Activities. For original activities custom designed for the BioSTEAM project type STEMarts Lab.

Remember the resource is an open-forum sharing links and ideas that others have found – always check your sources and give credit where credit is due. The open source movement generously shares its knowledge and relies on user feedback – so if there’s something really good or doesn’t work let others know.


Next Generation Science Standards

Core idea LS4.D Biodiversity and Humans

LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans