Geraldine Ondrizek has been a Professor of Art at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, since 1994. Her large-scale works are informed by medical and biological research and explore questions related to genetics. Ondrizek often partners with scientists and medical researchers to create artworks that beautifully incorporate and visualize scientific data.
Chromosome Painting II is the result of a two-year collaboration with researchers in the University of Washington’s department of medical genetics. The work is inspired by synteny maps, or genetic linkage maps, which compare gene sequences between species in order to better understand the evolution of chromosomes. Each of the long, colorful silk panels are printed with human chromosome maps, representing diseases that correlate to a specific genetic marker.
The word “chromosome” comes from the Greek khroma (color) and soma (body). Employing cloth, a medium long associated with domesticity, Ondrizek’s installation poetically represents human “color bodies” or chromosomes. Chromosome Painting II transforms scientific data into a deeply personal visual exploration of humanity.
Also included in this exhibition are Ondrizek’s Gene Chip graphite drawings based on images taken from a DNA microarray. The works elegantly translate scientific data into soft, layered compositions that create a kind of molecular portrait. Although they look completely abstract, DNA microarrays communicate a wealth of knowledge about health and the human condition.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website