The Art of Darkness

Genome Quilts

November 18th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Quilt Row

Quilter Beverly St. Clair attended a lecture on the Human Genome Project and was inspired to translate the DNA base molecules into quilt blocks. (That’s the sequence GATCGCCCTT up above.) She’s created several quilts based on various gene sequences; her interpretation of one of the genes in Hepatitis C is particularly lovely.

She’s also done some gorgeous appliqued double-helix quilts. I’m especially taken with this one.

As a long-time quilter, I’m extremely tickled by this juxtaposition of art and science. When my sister got married, I made her a quilt in her wedding colors. It would have been a thousand times cooler if I’d made a quilt using one of her gene sequences.

You could encode a more malign message into a quilt as well. Years ago, a good friend of mine married The Wrong Guy. My wedding gift consisted of two wooden TV trays (an excellent gift for any wedding, incidentally), which I decorated with two painted quilt blocks: “Contrary Husband” and “Contrary Wife.” If I had to do it again, I might instead present a quilt encoded with one of the genes from Syphilis. (The marriage, BTW, lasted about a year. Not that she was speaking to me by that point, because I also wore mourning attire to the wedding. I am not subtle.)

This would be a fun way to secretly display all kinds of meaningful genes–one of the vampire genes that was recently discovered, or perhaps a Poe quilt featuring a sequence from tuberculosis. You get the idea.

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