Faux Flora: Cooperative Bacteria at one ten park windows

Look more closely if you will/ See yet smaller flowers still/ By tiny bacteria made/ In cooperative mutual aid/ A commonwealth of a kind/ Coveted by human kind

Dr. Howard McCurdy, who has many accolades as a biologist and politician, created a series of paintings based on his work with Myxobacteria under the microscope, and I was honoured to be invited as one of the collaborators on this window. Howard’s paintings are stunning, and are the focal point of the collaborative work by Collette Broeders (formed plastic and dried flowers), Susan Gold (mixed materials in petri dishes and test tubes), Sarah Richardson (crocheted and mixed materials), and me, Kewy Janisse (sewn fabric).

My myxobacteria are singular cells, before they have joined in an aggregate or cooperative formation that resembles flowers, or flora. They contain plasmids, the rings that contain all genetic material in bacterial organisms. The plasmids on my myxobacteria are labelled with the genes that allow cell surface signalling, rippling, pilin precursors, protein for cellular aggregation, mutual gliding, and chemotaxis, all of which are essential for creating the multi-cellular cooperative “flower” organism.

Myxobacteria in triplet, 2017, fabric, 18 x 24″ each.


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