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Science as Beauty and Poetry


Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

“We especially need to imagine in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry as well.” ~ Dr. Maria Montessori. As Dr. Montessori observed, imagination is the “scope” which allows us to see what is already there. Such is the life and journey of local Scientist and Artist Lee Hendrickson, who believes it is the artist’s goal to make the invisible visible and in doing so reveal to the viewer a fresh and thought provoking worldview. Lee brings forth the “hidden world” seen only through the lens of a microscope.

Lee began his “incredible journey” growing up outside of Chicago, Ill. At the age of 12, he earned money shoveling snow during the seemingly endless Midwestern winters. The funds provided him with enough to buy his first microscope and set up a small laboratory in the basement of his family’s home. Not many years later, Lee moved his scientific curiosity to the warmer Atlanta, GA where he attended Emory University to pursue his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Shortly before graduation Lee took his first photograph, through a microscope, of a rat flea, transmitter of the feared bubonic plague. Fascinating as it was, he realized there was a limited career path in pictures of fleas. Instead, Lee entered a career as a research scientist in both academic and biotech institutions that would span the next 35 years of his life.

While enjoying a successful career in science, Lee obtained an A.A. degree in Biomedical Photography from Bellevue College in Bellevue, WA. The program allowed him to focus his skills in both macro and microphotography. During his training in the 1980s, he discovered the hidden and magical world of crystals. At this point, Lee began growing his own crystals and discovered endlessly fascinating subject matter for his photography. In 2005, he founded Side Street Photomicrography (skills in both macro and micro photography), which proved to be a fateful move. Not long after, Lee found himself caught in his third corporate downsize and decided to pursue his photography and art full time.

Today, Lee and his wife live in the Phoenix area. His home studio/lab is a constant environment for expanding his knowledge of crystal compounds, photography techniques, and exploring the endless array of patterns hidden in the micro worlds.
Lee lectures on his technique to interior designers and photography enthusiasts alike. As an educator he has taught both adults and children and in 2012 authored and published an instructional DVD set: Lee Hendrickson’s Creative Travel Photography. 

To view Lee’s astonishing images or to contact him, visit his Web site at Meet Lee at The Fine Art Expo at Jomax and Scottsdale Roads from now through April 3.

Contact arts columnist Shea Stanfield at