6644 - Hereditree ($70)

6644 - Hereditree   ($70)

Erin Martin
Bellingham, WA   USA

Width: 9"   Length: 12"

Materials/Techniques: Crayons, free-motion quilting.

Artist Statement: This quilt represents the fact that life in all its diversity is made out of the same basic stuff. “The genetic code that forms the roots that feed this tree is the same that forms the blood, the veins that course through you and me. But a tiny break, or slip, or change, or something bad, can erase all these memories to be had. Can whither the roots that feed this tree, can change the course of life for you and me. A-G-C-T, A-G-C-T.”

A, G, C, and T are the abbreviations for the bases of DNA- adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. Each strand of DNA is made of a backbone of alternating sugars and phosphates, with a base attached to each sugar in the backbone. Two strands of DNA come together by bonds between the bases on each backbone, with A bonding to T and G bonding to C.

In the same way that different combinations of letters create different words, different combinations of bases create unique sequences of DNA. Letters of the alphabet by themselves don’t have much meaning, but when they are put together in specific combinations to form words, those 26 letters can express so much more. Similarly, it is the specific combination of A’s, G’s, C’s, and T’s that gives a strand of DNA its meaning and determines what information it stores. The "words" of DNA are three letter groupings of bases, with each group of three letters coding for an amino acid, the building block of proteins. All organisms have just those 4 simple letters in their DNA, and it is the unique sequence of letters that creates so much diversity.

Just like a simple single letter change can turn a word such as “spoon” into a completely different word such as “swoon”, a change in a single base of DNA can change the information that the DNA encodes. Other changes, like altering the reading frame by deleting or adding a base, can have even more significant effects. In the alphabet example it would be like changing the sentence “Together we can find a cure” into “Ogetherw ec anf inda c ure.” Sometimes a mutation has no effect at all, other times a single mutation is enough to cause a disease, and still other times it is a combination of many mutations together that has an impact.

The roots of the tree in the quilt are made of double stranded helices of DNA and "Hereditree" is a play off of "hereditary."

Dedication: For my dad and all the researchers who are searching for a cure.

This quilt has Fast Finish Triangles.

This quilt earned $70 for the AAQI.