Chromosome Painting

A Collaboration

In 2009, artist Geraldine Ondrizek, Senior Genetic Counselor and Co-Director of UW Genetic Medicine Clinic Robin Bennett, and Genevieve Gaiser Tremblay, curator, collaborated to bring together art and medical science. This culminated in 2011 with a public art commission created by Ondrizek for the UW Medical Center to commemorate 50 years of Medical Genetics at the University of Washington.

Bennett granted Ondrizek access to a team of groundbreaking genetic researchers, which inspired Ondrizek to create new works that forged visual, scientific and metaphorical discoveries. The works featured in this exhibit explore the nature of our bio-cultural differences and similarities. Ondrizek assembled a rich collection of images from research done by prominent medical geneticists, including, UW Medical Genetics founder Arno Motulsky and Peter Byers.

In the three bodies of work featured in this exhibit: Chromosome 17, DNA Microarray, and Chromosome Paintings, Ondrizek meshes the material semiotics of cloth and culture with the complex and colorful language of genetic data. She leverages humble craft methods associated with domesticity to create textile portraits, color patterns and sequences that metaphorically portray what she calls “our coats of many colors.” Her deep inquiry into the more scientific realm of human identity invites us along and delivers not only exquisite aesthetic interpretations, but also a genetic literacy primer to inspire our own self-discoveries.

This exhibition was funded in part by:

The Artist

Geraldine Ondrizek is a research-based artist and professor at Reed College. Her work ignites interest and inquiry about the influence of cancer and other diseases on both individuals and entire families. She relies heavily on scientific inquiry, focusing on documenting biological specimens and exploring systems of categorization. She works closely with genetic scientists to trace ethnic identities, portray life spans, and depict genetically inherited conditions.

The Genetic Counselor

Robin Bennett, one of the most prominent genetic counselors in the nation, teaches human genetics at the UW Medical School. She pioneers genetic counseling practices that have become standard worldwide.
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The Curator

Genevieve Gaiser Tremblay is a community catalyst and public scholar at the convergence of art, emerging technologies and the public sphere. She integrates research, teaching, service, and public engagement through her curatorial practice.
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Design Consultant

Thank you to Jil Dever, CEO and Creative Director at t.b.a. for consultation on materials, fabrication, production and marketing of the Chromosome Painting Scarves, and the photography of the line on mannequins.