Open Call Details


Open from 
21st August 2018, 10:00am EDT to 5th October 2018, 11:00pm EDT
Results by 
1st December
Provisional Season Dates 
June to August


Science Gallery Lab Detroit seeks interactive, participatory works for DEPTH, a free exhibition that explores the power and complexities of water and its many roles in the physical and social world.

Water is life. Its presence affects all living things. From creation stories about life on Earth, to the looming devastating effects of pollution and climate change, water has the power to spread life and rejuvenation as well as death and destruction.

Who has access to water? Who decides? These issues raise questions about water as a human right. About our responsibilities to water as a resource and our responsibilities to each other.

This exhibition examines water’s polarizing extremes. From discoveries of water on Mars and hydroelectric power, to issues of water quality and access, to the complexities of water systems at the microscopic and macroscopic scales, our futures are directly linked to the future of water. What will that future be?


  • Indigenous perspectives on water
  • Chemical properties of water, water ecologies
  • The hydrological cycle (evaporation, condensation, precipitation, collection)
  • The varied states of water (vapor, liquid, solid)
  • Sustainability, hydroelectric power
  • Water quality and access
  • Explorations of our current water usage and footprint, for individuals, for companies
  • Cultural traditions, storytelling, artistic creating connected to water
  • Water for play and recreation, water for education
  • Impacts of water pollution on the environment, technological remedies to water pollution
  • Discoveries of water on Mars and other planets
  • The value of water in food and other commodities
  • The Great Lakes and freshwater ecosystems
  • Marine life, oceans, and the increasing salinity of the ocean
  • Impacts of water contamination on human development and health
  • Water crises, vanishing icecaps and glaciers
  • Dystopian and utopian views of the future of water
  • Relationship between water and plants, water and animals
  • Water as a commons that should be held in the public trust free of privatization


What makes a good Science Gallery Lab Detroit open call proposal? We are especially looking for both existing and new projects that match Science Gallery Lab Detroit’s three core aims: to Connect, Participate, and Surprise. We invite scientific and artistic proposals for exhibits as well as ideas for public programming.

Some tips for strong proposals:

  1. We love works that invite visitors to participate, create and discuss.
  2. Great projects bring together art and science, in a creative way. We generally avoid science that is evaluating art or art that didactically illustrates science.
  3. Relevance to our core audience of 15-25 year olds is a factor in curatorial decisions.
  4. Defying categories is good. For example, perhaps your piece is “a kind of a hybrid sculpture, event, installation-puzzle, with a crowdsourced edible citizen-science archive, plus a performance component that will portray a speculative future organism… .” We like stuff like this.
  5. However, a true connection to the theme is a must. We encourage you to take a moment to consider fit before committing your valuable time and energy to the application.
  6. We have limited wall space, so we usually have more room for objects/sculptures.
  7. Collaborations are great! Are you a cryptographer working with a cellist? Maybe you’re a comic book illustrator artist thinking of submitting a proposal with an immunologist? If you’re a marine geologist looking for a cheesemonger to work with, we might know just the person — get in touch and we might be able to help.


Proposals may be new or existing works, and will be funded up to a maximum budget of $3,300, which should include all artist fees, materials, equipment, shipping, travel, etc. Please note that these are maximum amounts and we enthusiastically welcome proposals that come in below the maximum budget.


  • Rachel Frierson, Director of Programming, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy 

  • Seitu Jones, visual artist and scientist, McKnight Distinguished Artist and Loeb Fellow in the Harvard Graduate School of Design

  • Elizabeth LaPensée, digital game author, Gugenheim Fellow and Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures, Michigan State University

  • Tawana Petty, poet and Data Justice Coordinator, Detroit Community Technology Project

  • Mark Sullivan, photographer, composer, and Assistant Director of Science Gallery Lab Detroit, Michigan State University, 




As an Irish artist, am I eligible to enter this Open Call?  When would the exhibition take place?

Kind regards

Jacinta Moore

Hi Jacinta,

Yes, you are welcome to submit to this open call. The exhibition will take place June 2019 - August 2019 in Detroit.


Caroline White

Many thanks for your reply Caroline. Jacinta

I am a scientist at Michigan State University. I study (among other things) bacteria and fungi that hitch rides in rain and water droplets. I am interested in what happens to these microbes once they land on soil or plants, but I think the idea of microbes in fog and rain could make a really neat piece (and is a relatively recent scientific discovery!). I am really interested in art-science collaboration. I have some ideas for artistic representations of this, but would be happy to leave that to the professionals. E.g. allow people to experience a water droplet, magnified, or a fog/mist simulation box with flourescence in the drops. If you know anyone interested in this, let me know, and perhaps we could see about submitting a proposal to this call. I also study the effects of drought. Thanks

I am personally interested in the work you describe. I am a photographer, and a composer, and can imagine many ways to connect creating works, or an exhibit. to the scientific work you describe. I also should be able to help find other artists, if it seems that might work better. I am an MSU faculty member, and know various folks working in domains not too far removed from those you descibe (ie. Bjorn Hamberger, Beronda Montgomery, David Kramer, etc.) Please get in touch, and we can work out a strategy for going foward with a proposal.



Grat to hear from you- my email is, perhaps we can talk more over email and go from there. I am not actually located on MSU main campus, but at a biological station (Kellogg Bio Station) an hour away. I do not see this as a problem though

In which city and which building will exhibition be installed? Can we propose work for both indoor and outdoor sites? 


It will be in Detroit Michigan. We are still looking at various buildings and sites. Indoor will certainly work, and it is likely we can accomodate outdoor installations, depending on the site we finally choose, and whether it would be installed for the full duration of the show, or a shorter period of time.

Hello, I am a brazilian artist and have a short film related to the question of excess and lack of water in diferente states of Brazil. In the submission file there is no film box in type of project. Does that mean that you don't accept films for the DEPTH exhibition? Looking forward to hear from you. Thanks, Claudia



No. I will check why there is no box. We are very much interested in films, and had several video installations in our first exhibit, and a film showing as part of our performance series. That is a slip, and I appreciate you pointing it out. Please do submit, as that sounds like quite a fascinating project. 


Mark S

Thanks for your reply Mark. I'll submit it using the instalation box! 



Hi, I wondered if one of my ideas for the Open Call which is to create a series of coastal/seabased imagery from the West coast of Ireland aiming to highlight nature's art created by organic seaside and coastal matter would be of interest?

I am not sure why your inquiry was never answered. The lead curator who had primary responsibility for communicating with submitters is no longer with Science Gallery Lab Detroit. Still, I apologize for the lack of response. It seems it could become a fascinating idea for the current open call. I hope you will consider resubmitting. 


I wondered if I could enquire if the team would be interested in a series of images digital photography/art based surrounding the subject of water to include nature's art - the elements depiction of art through water/erosion etc.

I look forward to you reply.


Yes, this subject and medium looks like a good fit with the open call for Depth. You can find the specifics under the Open Call tab for Depth, the open call originating in the Science Gallery Lab Detroit. One thing youi might think about is how this work would be presented to people who attend, and what kind of experience you would like the people to have. Science gallery does do some work that involves hanging works on walls, but also encourages submitters to think about participative or interactive forms of engaging the public in the work.


Thank you for your replies Mark.

You indicate that you have limited spaces- what size wall space would there be for multi video projections  ? 


We don't have a specific space yet. I would suggest articulating the maximal version

of what you would like to do, and suggesting how it could be scaled down, and the limits 

on scaling down you could accept, in the proposal. We can negotiate that, once we know the actual space.


Hello! I wanted to know if I could propose an installation that includes the growth of living materials such as cyanobacteria or other microalgal cultures in flasks or other containers of water? The project I would like to propose focuses on the growth of different strains of cyanobacteria - looking towards them as ancient organisms that created our atmosphere and all oxygen dependent life. In the wake of them now appearing as harmful algal blooms in inland water bodies with their unmitigated growth prompted by human development and pollution, this project hopes to reposition our relationship to these ancient organisms and our impact on the ecosystems they inhabit. I would like to show the beauty of their different forms and create an intimacy between them and the viewer: showcasing the growth of these organisms over time in water, under a microscope (live feed, or prerecorded videos of them under a microscope), and/or potentially sonifying them. Let me know if something like what I'm proposing is possible, and if you are interested!



Actually, I just we read an article about cyanobacteria, so I'm chuffed I actually know a bit. It sounds like a fascinating proposal, especially the idea of sonifying them. I think it is possible, and there may be logistical challenges, but we might be able to help meet those challenges.

Hello there, 

I am interested in applying for the submission but would like to know what space is available as I would like to submit a multi-video piece which would be projected at a large scale.

all the best, 


Well of course there are always limits, but what I would suggest is to submit a proposal that presents the maximal presentation, and that outlines what might be entailed in scaling it down, and what the limits are on that: in other words, how scaled down could you accept.

thanks for that, elaine 




I'm a visual artist from the Netherlands and just finished a photographic project on plastic pollution of the oceans. You offer as a potential theme 'impacts of water pollution on the environment'. My question is if a project about plastic pollution could be of interest for your exhibition. 

I would say yes. To the extent that plastic pollution is having a major impact on the quality and health of water, and the ecosystem it is part of, the impact of plastic is huge. We are looking at water involved in growing food, and water involved in creating consumer products, like "pre-faded blue jeans" etc. So that seems like it could potentially be a very solid address to the theme. 

Hello! We are artistic duet "Endless attractions museum" (Anastasia Krokhaleva, Denis Perevalov) from Russia. We create projects in light art, robots, AI, sound art, drones, VR, sciense art. We are interested in your art-residence. Could you, please, answer our questions:

  1. In which months do artists live and work in the art residence? Do we need to spend all three months in the art residence or we can leave the art residence for a while?
  2. Can you provide us with a place to live, pay the way for both and pay the per diem?
  3. Is the artist's fee included in the amount $ 3,300?
  4. When will it be known whether our application for participation in your art residence passed?



This is not an arts residency, but an exhibtion running from June till September. No artists are in residence for the course of the exhibtion, and we make not provisions for resideny. The fee covers production costs and travel to the opening, or a visit in the course of the exhibition. All decisions will be made by early December, except for a rew commissions.


This is not an arts residency, but an exhibtion running from June till September. No artists are in residence for the course of the exhibtion, and we make not provisions for resideny. The fee covers production costs and travel to the opening, or a visit in the course of the exhibition. All decisions will be made by early December, except for a rew commissions.

What is the state of the floor itself in the venue being used? Would it be conducive to an exhibit adhered to the floor by the means of say, vinyl decals?

Apologies if this was already asked: 

What is the floor of the building being used like? If an exhibit were to consist of infographic-styled commercial floor vinyl decals, would this be an issue? 



We don't know what the surface of the floor will be, since we
haven't chosen a space yet. However, no matter what it may be,
I think we could easily fabricate a "false floor" up to certain dimensions
in which you could install infographic-styled commercial floor vinyl decals.