It’s been fifty years since C. P. Snow wrote in “The Two Cultures” about the gap between the arts and the sciences. Every so often, someone comes along and bridges the divide. Paleoartist John Gurche is one of these people.
Shaping Humanity: How Science, Art, and Imagination Help Us Understand Our Origins recounts Gurche’s years-long efforts literally to put a face on the bones of our earliest hominin ancestors, as he worked to reconstruct the bodies of fifteen of our predecessor species for the Smithsonian’s “Hall of Human Origins.”
This magnificent project was grandly done, and Gurche’s book is an achievement equally grand. Shaping Humanity combines the brain of the scientist with the soul of the artist in a totally engrossing way. i can’t recall another recent book that has held my attention so strongly in such different ways.