Final art project

All that glitters may not be gold–it could be microbes!

I recently started teaching myself hand embroidery, and I thought it would be fun to use it as the medium for my final project. I was very indecisive throughout the process so I ended up making a few random things (some that are shown below). The final piece of work I created was inspired by the bacterial isolate project, specifically my own isolate. The first plate I swabbed with my environmental sample had a mixture of yellow, white, and orange bacteria. I ended up isolating a bacterium that grows in pale yellow colonies, Pseudomonas denitrificans. I didn’t have pale yellow thread, but I did have gold so I figured that was close enough. The first zig-zag streaked plate is based off my original sample culture, the second is based off my first quadrant streak, and the third is based off my final (4th) quadrant streak.


*Although my isolate technically didn’t have anything to do with gold, there is however, a type of bacteria that can detoxify gold into pure gold nanoparticles (Delftia acidovarans and Cupriavidis metallidurans, and possibly others). The process of detoxifying dissolved gold ions is a defense mechanism for these bacteria.

Other items I attempted to recreate include a T-4 bacteriophage, rRNA tree of life, E. coli bacterium, plasmids and horizontal gene transfer, a few are pictured below.

I realized in class today that I had of course forgotten to actually finish uploading my stuff to website….


Microbial art project

For this art project, I really needed to do some searching. I am not an artist person by any means. It’s difficult for me to even draw a stick figure. Growing up in Alaska, I’ve always admired its beauty, so I wanted to do something that could possibly depict the spring time here in Fairbanks. However, it’s not necessarily pretty. It’s muddy, it’s messy, it’s dirt covered snow and soggy grass. I’ve seen wax art like this before, but instead of showing something streaking down and falling on to something, I decided to show the growth of something through what resembles the decomposition of the flowers before these to fertilize this growth. The flowers that we do have here are dime a dozen and they are beautiful if they can grow strong and tall enough to push through the fertilized soil. Also, I’ve always thought that the first day of spring is the first day you see a butterfly, so I decided to add one of those little guys!

Art Project

Microbiology Art Project  For my art project, I chose to do an offshoot of a renga.  For those of you who don’t know what a renga is: it is a japanese form of poetry meant for a party occasion.  One performer writes a stanza that is 5, 7, then 5  syllables (you may know that as a haiku) then it is passed to someone who writes a 7, 7 syllable stanza.  This repeats on and on till the renga is complete.  Usually rengas are 100 stanzas, but I stopped at 50.  That’s a lot of stanzas 😀  I wanted to do stanzas that kind of encompass things we learned and experienced in class.  I’m not the best poet, so it’s not the most exciting form of art ever, but I did put time and care into it to make sure I followed the organizational structure, at least.

Microbes of Decomposition


For the piece I have been working on, I decided to make   a woman with a dress of microbes laying on the forest bed.   I always find images with woman lying on the forest to be interesting (especially one series of photos I’ve seen that represents stages of fertility).   I first thought of a woman lying in some moss in the forest, and then decided to do a depiction of the bacteria that go behind the decomposition of a body to make up the dress of the person.

For the purpose of finding out which microbes are involved in decomposition, I ended up reading through a paper by Metcalf et al. that discussed use of microbes in forensics to better determine time of death.   I discovered which microbes played parts in different stages of decomposition and placed them throughout as such.   Many of the soil bacteria were Proteobacteria, which meant that they were all gram-negative.

Some of the interesting bacteria to find included Firmicutes that would stain gram-negative though they were gram-positive and serratia, which could form endospores.

Art Project

So, I wrote this poem with the intention of creating a way to study. It’s a lot easier to remember terms when they rhyme so I figured it could be fun to give it a shot. I’ve never really done anything with poetry since a class in 8th grade, but couplets have always been my favorite. I really like how they make short little rhymes and they glue themselves in your head. I never would have thought that half of these words would ever fit into a poem, but if “spontaneous generation’ can flow smoothly, there’s not many words that couldn’t.

Ideally, I’d make the poem much longer and cover all the topics that we have gone over in class. I wanted something that flowed through the path of things we had learned over the semester, but I had to leave out several major topics due to the time constraint. Before presenting my poem in class, I’d like to add on to it to better cover the topics that I missed.

The poem can be read really anyway you’d like to read it. I more-or-less put the stanzas in the order that we learned about them, but I feel like each individual one could still stand out on its own. As I said before, I didn’t cover everything, I hope each little rhyme is able to stick in your head and maybe help you out on the final.


A Microbial Review


Wee animalcules, that’s the name

Controlling the world, that’s their game

Coccus, Bacillus, and in-between too

There’s not one thing microbes can’t do.


Described by Hooke in 1665,

On almost any surface they do thrive.

Leeuwenhoek saw them at 200 X

But where did they come from, these little specs?


Spontaneous generation, that’s our theory

They come from thin air? That’s just eerie.

Next came Pasteur, with his swan-necked flask

He’d prove them all wrong, he was up to the task.


Discoveries were made, but the results were ignored

Semmelweis shouldn’t have been fired, he deserved a reward.

The people realized that cleanliness was needed

Thanks to Nightingale and Lister the people conceded.


What we’ve learned so far is just the beginning

It’s like a game of baseball, but only second inning.

With advances like staining, we divide them in two

Positive or negative but purple, pink, and red in our view


The can grow and be counted using several different tools

Defined and complex media each have their own set of rules

We have plate counts, slide counts, and turbidity too

Indirect requires a direct method, but I’m sure that you knew.


Microbes can move wherever they please

Some use flagella, swimming with ease

Or maybe act like Spiderman just give it a go

You need twitching motility to be this hero


Microbes consume everything from rocks to light

Responsible for nutrient cycling with all their might

Metabolic pathways can go down any different path

Try using an electron tower, but double check your math


Forget antibiotics if you catch some of these

Viruses have their own rules and it’s your cells they seize

Whether it’s lysogenic or lytic the cycle ends the same

Your cell gets destroyed with nothing to reclaims


Antibiotic resistance is a big problem we face

Each problem solved creates an evolutionary arms race

Will the war ever end? I’m not so sure

But stay clean, be healthy and you’ll endure

Gram Negative Clay

Title: Gram Positive Clay

Artist: Michael Kaden-Hoffmann

Media: Polymer Clay

Scientific Concept: One major way the bacteria are categorizes is by how they react to a gram stain. The two categories resulting from a gram stain are pink gram-negative bacteria and purple gram-positive bacteria. The reason for this color difference is difference in the make up and thickness of the cell wall of the bacteria. Gram-positive bacteria have a thick layer of peptidoglycan that surrounds the cell membrane and traps the purple, crystal violet stain in the cell. Gram negatives have lipopolysaccharide layer and a much smaller peptidoglycan layer surrounding the cell membrane and thus the crystal violet stain is washed out and only shows the pink safranin stain remains.

Artist Concept: I want to create a piece that showed what a gram-positive bacteria looks like up close as that was the type of bacteria that I had for my term project. So to do this, I made half a coccus gram-positive cell out of clay. In the middle I made the cytoplasm purple to show the stain. In the cytoplasm I included ribosomes, a plasmid, and supercoiled circular DNA. Surrounding the cytoplasm I made the lipid bilayer with membrane proteins. Around the bilayer I made the thick peptidoglycan layer with teichoic acid that gives it its negative charge as well as a few proteins. In a normal cell there is some space between the cell membrane and the peptidoglycan layer, however I was not able to incorporate that. Other then that and the size the only other inconsistence with real bacteria is that my peptidoglycan layer is thinner then the real one, and the reason for this was that I ran out of clay. Banana (made by nature) for scale.

Art Project: The Lytic Cycle

The Lytic Cycle Shown Through Dance

I knew from the beginning I wanted to incorporate my microbiology project with pole dance however, none of the topics seemed to easily transition into a dance. When we learned about viruses, I knew I had found my topic. I came up with a routine and asked a few girls at my studio to do it with me. Fortunately, they agreed! Unfortunately, I was asking them to give up their time and work without pay. However, they were very generous and in the short amount of time we had, I was able to show them the routine and this was only take two!

The dance starts with the “cell” being the first two dancers on the pole. Then the virus shows up on the pole (attachment). The scarf dropped down from the girls portraying the virus to the girls on the floor portraying the cell represents the DNA (DNA entry). The girls that then come into the routine is representing the virus duplicating and the floor work of the cell on the floor is its slow demise (synthesis and assembly). Finally, the virus bursts through the cell (release), ending the cycle.

Microbiology Art Project

For my microbial art project, I wanted something that was just as aesthetically pleasing as it was related to a microbial concept. I was fascinated by the appearance of diatoms, and how perfectly symmetrical they seemed to be. Many diatoms I saw when looking up reference images almost resembled gears; a fitting concept, as even though gears are a small part of a bigger machine, they are important to the structure and function of the machine as a whole. Microbes are almost like gears in a machine this way. Though small, they have made a big impact in the development of life as we know it.

Microbes All the Way Down

Throughout many cultures, a “World Turtle’ or “World Elephant’ creation myth is prevalent. In particular, an Indian myth explains that there is a turtle that holds elephants that holds the world. This has lead to the expression “turtles all the way down’ implying that another turtle stands below the one with the elephants on it’s …

Gram Skein Cheater’s Gloves

Hello all! This art project comes to you from Chaya, the person who sits in the front row and knits during lectures. As you may have guessed, I knit something for my art project, and you’ll find pictures and my artist’s statement on my Ravelry project page. The artist’s statement will be towards the bottom of the page, and you can click the pictures to make them bigger.