Art Project-Immune System

The immune system has continuously interested me with its “soap-opera” feel to it. Each function within the immune system can be thought of as a dramatic interaction between individuals. By associating a story with a function of the immune system, I help myself to memorize it.

Autoimmune response- While autoimmune responses are still not fully understood, we can think of this concept in the immune system as “attacking SELF.” These immune cells are trying to destroy another cell that is apart of the body, but they think it’s a pathogen.

T-Cell Altercation- Some bacteria have developed a way to disguise themselves and “hide” their antigens so that T-cells cannot detect them as pathogens. This is how I imagine a T-cell would question a pathogen to find out if it’s apart of the body or not.

Immune defense in the oral cavity- After learning more about common bacteria in the human microbiome, I thought a drawing of Staphylococcus aureus would be appropriate to help depict the innate response. This is S. aureus holding onto the uvula and trying to evade the attack of macrophages. The only other option for the opportunistic pathogen is falling to the depths of stomach acid.

The AI-team – This one helps to depict the immune system’s “Defensive” namesake. Each cell is apart of a much bigger goal to help protect the body from pathogens and disease. Both the adaptive and the innate response are equally as important as the other (hence AI team). This reminds me of a rugby team. The NK cell must have forgotten his jersey though. Whoops.

Creation of Resistance

The inspiration for my work is that of a 1512 Fresco of a Biblical story about the creation of Adam which is also the title in Italian “Creazione di Adamo” by the great sculptor Michelangelo. While Michelangelo’s version is a Fresco, my work reverts back to a sculptor and my media is Fred Meyers carrot cake and REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups. The next time you’re in Rome, Vatican City, stop by the Sistine Chapel, go inside   and look at   center of the ceiling. In the center of the Popes church, you will see Horizontal Gene Transfer,   not the mere Creation of Adam, but the Creation of Resistance from all of the ill-effects of human antibiotics and the Genesis of Bacteria’s dominance over life on Earth to come.

Civilization is Born – Matt Andrews


“Civilization is Born” by Matt Andrews

Artists Statement:

A virus is in some respects a pure expression of information made manifest. It is like a book, it exists and anything that happens because of what it contains is dependent on the life which reads it.

The only difference between humanity now and humanity a hundred thousand years ago is the information, be it science, culture, or other knowledge which we have accumulated and spread among ourselves.

In this piece I have drawn inspiration from viruses, to that end I havbe created a scene in a 3D program where I modeled the delivery protein structure of a virus bacteriophage including the icosohedral head, tail, base plate, and tail fibers, all of which I have scaled up to a size closer to that of a human, the DNA has been replaced with a book.


Some larger renders of this scene:

Civilization is Born

Sarah Brower Art Project:Replication

I can’t draw or paint, but I do enjoy crochet, so I wanted to try to do something with crochet for this project.

I wanted to attempt to crochet the cycle of cellular replication.

From left to right,1)   the initial cell with the DNA supercoiled, 2)the DNA unwound as the cell prepares for DNA replication, 3) theta replication, 4) the cell has successfully replicated and is now separating into 2 cells, 5&6) the two new daughter cells.

I tried to make cells two and three larger to show the cell growing.

This was done using acrylic yarn of two different colors.   The DNA id in a gray color, and the cells themselves are in a pink/purple color, almost like a badly decolorized Gram negative cell.

“Cleaning Bacteria” By Karli Fitzgerald

I decided to make a Gram-positive bacterium out of glycerin soap.   I wanted to make a bacterium that we are usually trying to wash away when we wash our hands because it would be ironic to wash your hands with the thing that you are trying to wash off of your hands.   Staphylococcus aureus  is a Gram-positive, coccus-shaped bacterium that is commonly found on skin and can cause infections, and the easiest way to prevent these infections is by washing your hands.   I made two pieces of soap so it would look as though the bacterium was cut in half and you could see inside of it.   I made the outer layer thick and purple to represent the thick peptidoglycan cell wall that stains purple after Gram staining.   Inside one of the halves you can see a couple plasmids, while the other half has the supercoiled DNA.   The little blue dots inside the cell represent ribosomes, and the glitter represents all the proteins and other small molecules you might find in the cytoplasm.

I also made a piece of soap to represent a Gram-negative cell envelope.   The blue layers represent the inner and outer membranes, the orange layers represent the periplasm layers, and the pink layer represents the thin peptidoglycan cell wall.   I made this layer pink because Gram-negative bacteria stain pink after Gram staining.

Lauryn Harrod-“Mircobial Friends”

For my art project, I was inspired by my two nieces, Eesa and Jojo, to attempt to make a children’s book. The title of my piece, “Microbial Friends’, was intended to emphasize that not all microbes are harmful, as most children are taught. The book itself is made from pieces of cardboard and paper on which I drew the microbes. Unfortunately, it did not turn out even close to the way that I had envisioned, but it still conveys information about microbiology. Each structure of the cell is made from a different material to make it an interactive “touch and feel’ book and to integrate the functions of these structures. Furthermore, I made painfully cheesy rhymes to help myself remember the corresponding functions (it’s difficult to read the writing in the pictures so I included them below). I chose not to include a comprehensive list of functions, however, I tried to include some major ones. For example, the pili are responsible for twitching motility. In contrast, flagella allow the cell to exhibit a tumble and run method of movement and fimbriae can assist with adhesion. The glycocalyx can also be important in adhesion and can prevent dehydration. Lastly, endospores contain and protect genetic information from the cell, which is released when conditions are favorable. I also made the microbes different shapes to help me review cell morphology. For example, the green microbe is coccobacillus, the red is coccus, the blue is irregular and the purple and grey are bacillus.


Feel the sticky fimbriae, numerous and short. They are important for adhesion, and can make a biofilm fort!

Feel the glycocalyx, shiny and silky smooth. It prevents dehydration, and acts similar to glue!

Feel the twisty flagella, extra long and thin. They help the cell move, as it tumbles and runs again!

Feel the pokey pili, long and sticking out. They use twitching motility, to help the cell on its route!

Feel the bumpy endospore, round and in a heap. It protects the information, when the cell goes to sleep!

Prime Time Players

During class when we talked about cell walls, it reminded me of a fence or a wall on a farm, you keep all the things you want in and all the bad things stay out. So for my project I drew a fence through a field and then drew the “good guy’ characters on one side on a happy and healthy land, and then the “bad characters’ on the other side in an unpleasant, desolate desert.

The fence is there to represent a cell wall, Gram -positive or negative, and the characters represent different processes of the cell, for example Dexter is the brains for DNA replication and the other characters do the heavy lifting of creating proteins like a ribosome. The bad characters reminded me of some of the “bad guys’ they might encounter on the outside, like Man Ray using force to try to break the cell or Mojo Jojo is the brains and tries to insert his bad DNA into the cell but their efforts are futile with the fence/cell wall in the way. I also thought the openness of the fence would allow for diffusion of small helpful “ions’ in and out.

The different kinds of microbes floating around in the sky are just there to confirm that this is a project about microbes.

I have a love of drawing the cartoon characters of my childhood so this project was a really fun one to try my hand at painting on a canvas for the first time.

Art Project: Rise of Vilithrax

Dan Mulkey

To preface, I have been the Dungeon Master for my friends’ Dungeons & Dragons campaign this semester, which involves creating worlds and adventures, then playing them out with characters and dice within the rules of the system. While reviewing viral structure in class, I was struck by the polyhedral nature of the viral capsid, noticing that it was evocative of a D20, the most prolific die in the game and the most evocative of D&D as a concept. Using a bit of copper wire and a D20, I fashioned this small bacteriophage figure with literally $2 and 10 minutes of my time.

Of course, even I would consider this barely worth a C, so I also decided to take a bit of viral inspiration and fashion a Dungeons & Dragons encounter designed after a viral outbreak.


The problem I ran into was it being difficult to design a monster for D&D that you can’t hit with a sword, so I created a few variants on the bacteriophage design:

The first I dubbed a “crawler”, a bacteriophage without a tail, roughly the size of a small dog. These would hunt down nearby creatures (symbolizing cells) and attack with a small mouth on their underside. They would then inject “viral DNA” which, after a “lag phase”, would assemble itself into a new crawler using the host’s biomass, slowly making them sicker and more invalid. It would then burst out of the host’s chest in a spray of viscera, killing them instantly. This represented a lytic viral attack. Another variant, the “acolyte”, would have the viral DNA incorporated into their own biomass, evolving them into a sort of bacteriophage/humanoid hybrid, with their tail hidden under robes and manifesting tail fibers like a viral centaur. This was intended to be representative of a lysogenic cycle, though in this case the host is empowered by the incorporation of viral DNA.

Over the course of a 6 hour session, the heroes successfully quarantined the city, isolated healthy survivors, and detained Vilithrax, the mad priest who initiated ground zero of the infection in a crowded church. Time will tell if some phages escape the city and wreak mayhem in the rest of the world.

Art Project: Bacteriophage

by: Michael Carpenter and Ana Strachan

For our project, we decided to build a bacteriophage to help us study for the final exam. Using repurposed items (mostly) around our houses we constructed this large bacteriophage. A bacteriophage is a virus that infects bacteria. The structures which we depicted are the capsid which protects the nucleic acids seen inside of it which can be DNA or RNA. A collar helped to support the capsid. The tail which allows the nucleic acid to pass through during infection of a host. Attached to the baseplate at the bottom of the tail are the tail fibers have chemical receptors to help find and attach to a potential host. The baseplate contains components that forms a more permanent bond to the host. Once the bacteriophage is secured to the host the sheath around the tail contracts helping to break into the envelope.

Archaea Tree




My art project was inspired by our two lectures on Archaea. I originally wanted to do a three part series but got a bit invested in this larger canvas so I decided to spend all my time painting little bits about each of the major types of Archaea. I really enjoyed looking into the different types and found that there was not as much information about the ammonia cycling for Thaumarchaeota as I anticipated. I was inspired but the Crenarchaeota being present in Yellow Stone hyper-thermal areas and deep sea vents. I tried to separate the different types of Archaea with the background but keep them unified be making it into a gradient.

I originally wanted to add to add rid bits about Nanoarchaeota and Korarchaeota but the information that was available didn’t lead to much inspiration for painting so I just left them with the names only.

I underlined the major genus for each of the three main types so that they were easy to identify.

I hope you enjoy my painting about Archaea.