Symbiotic Stitches

by Austin Chia, Leyi Guo, Mantis Harper-Blanco, Katherine Luna, Maia Malakoff, Nadia Nazar, Jingwen Zhang

How can we practice care with our collaborators and with each other to craft resilient symbiotic communities?

Craft and biodesign share a common origin as responses to times of struggle through modes of production and expression. Symbiotic Stitches is our response to the challenge we face as a society to address the multidimensional ecological problems we have created and now attempt to control.

As artists, we have inherited a long and rich legacy of quilting. It is within our familial heritage to create and quilt. With its many disparate pieces stitched together, the quilt is a symbol of community. Biomaterials have a welcome place here. Moreover, quilting groups are an active practice of community, where people talk and bond while working together.

As learned in our quilting group, we practice care with our collaborators in the lab—mycelium, slime mold, and lichen. We endeavor to support and learn from them, not simply extract from them. We focus on elements of regeneration to repair and mend. Our biomaterial quilt embodies the perseverance living in all of us.

How can we practice care with our collaborators and each other to craft resilient symbiotic communities? In our bioquilting group, we are generating a language between the human and more-than-human world. Come talk and work with us as we answer this question together.

Our Quilt:

Our Process:

Enter the MICA Quilt Group’s Raffle to win a quilt! Raffle tickets go towards scholarships for BIPOC Students.

Self Regeneration Research

Article Reference: 
Elise Elsacker, Meng Zhang, and Martyn Dade‐Robertson. “Fungal Engineered Living Materials: The Viability of Pure Mycelium Materials with Self‐Healing Functionalities.” Advanced Functional Materials 33, no. 29 (July 2023): 2301875.

Experiments to test the Self regenerative Properties of Ganoderma Lucidum:
All mycelium samples were pressed with hemp, and damaged with a sterile scalpel. The diameter of the hole/damage was about ½ inch~. All Experiments were replicated.

6 Well Plates: 5 ml of MEB(Malt Extract Broth) Mycelium Sample with Hemp (x3)5 ml of H2O mycelium sample with Hemp (x3) 5 ml of MEB Mycelium Sample without Hemp (x3)5 ml of H2O mycelium sample without Hemp (x3) 6-8ml~ of  MEA(Malt Extract Agar) Mycelium sample with Hemp (x3)6-8ml~ of  MEA Mycelium sample without Hemp (x3) ALL incubated for 5 days at 30℃ 

All 6 well plates got contaminated, however, all the samples with hemp grew abundantly an extra layer of biomass. The samples without hemp did not grow as fervently and did not appear to grow an extra layer of biomass, but rather were in the beginning stages of growth. Malt Extract Broth samples showed more growth over the H2o samples. 
The majority of our samples in the quilt, with this research, could then be regenerated after being exposed to damage.

“Where we start to move forward is when we learn to ask questions which are less concerned with ‘Are you like us?’, and more interested in ‘What is it like to be you?”

James Bridle, Ways of Being: Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for a Planetary Intelligence

(top row left to right) Austin Chia, Nadia Nazar, Leyi Guo, Jingwen Zhang, Ryan Hoover (bottom row) Rachel Rusk, Mantis Harper-Blanco, Maia Malakoff, Caelan Grace McCollum, Katherine Luna