Les petits bandits

Les petits bandits is an oil pastel piece made to emphasize and appreciate the efforts made by the immune system on a daily basis. It encompasses the rapid response by white blood cells to foreign antigens like protists. In this illustration, a white blood cell is attacking a Plasmodium gametocyte. Plasmodium is a protist and although we did not go too much in detail about them in class, protists are microscopic, unicellular eukaryotes (not to be mistaken with yeasts).

Strangely enough, Plasmodium cells live through alternation of generations that consists of the parasitic sporozoite that invade the body and cause great nuisance to the human red blood cell. Enough sporozoite infiltration in the blood cells can cause lysis which gives rise to the severe symptoms and complications associated with malaria. Sporozoites can then give rise to the larger and harmless gametocytes that in turn will reproduce sexually and restart the cycle.

If it weren’t for the thick, dense chromatin within the gametocytes, one looking on them through a microscope might confuse them with sickle cell anemia. Ironically enough, sickle cells have been observed to show resistance against malaria according to Graham R Serjeant and the British Journal of Hematology.

Arrangement of this work took lots of planning prior to execution. Oil pastels in particular can be tricky to work with. Since they’re a lot thicker than traditional crayons, their color can sit on top of other pigments but coordinating the right combination of colors is a carefully calculated and applied process. A few mistakes can either be covered up through layering or through scraping the pigment off. After applying the right layers, final touches involving blending and outlining were made through smudging with other pastels or by finger.

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