Growth Patterns

Riley Cox, Fibers, 2023

Project Overview

This work used E-coli bacteria edited with CRISPR to appear white. In this process I was thinking about the ethics of this new found control we have over living things. I am comparing this to a history of idyllic, controlled images of the natural world used throughout the Arts and Craft movement. This work is a way for me think critically about the mediums I am engaging with and their complex histories. 


I made a pattern drawing in rhino inspired by wallpaper from the Arts and Craft movement. I then laser cut the pattern in paper, cutting out specific circles sized to carry the design into petri dishes. After, I cut two pieces of clear acrylic to suspend the paper between. I made sure to leave holes to fit the dishes in and standoff screws. I first tried using the bio printer to finish the redacted circles of my drawing in rhino but the agar was not perfectly level so only part of the bacteria grew. I decided to take the E-coli cultures we edited to be white and draw the design instead using a toothpick. I used a laser cut guide of the design under the dish as I worked.