Building Bricks of Life

The X-Prize Foundation asked me to create a sculpture for their Archon Genomics X Prize on genome sequencing. They were interested in a sculpture of a DNA strand.

I started with a very scientific approach. I did research. I learned about adenine and cytosine, and some other important facts I had forgotten from AP Biology. (For instance, did you know that DNA originally stood for Do Not Alter, which is why altering DNA can have such ghastly effects, e.g., see the movie ‘Splice’.) I started creating a very technically accurate DNA strand. I wanted to make sure the right bases were paired with the right bases, and the spiral of the strands were at the correct degree. It was going to be awesome. Professors would refer to this sculpture in the future when teaching DNA lessons to future DNA scientists. The Natural History Museum was probably going to try and buy the sculpture to explain genetics to future generations. I then abandoned it after about a thousand bricks into it. It now rests at the bottom of a trash barrel in my studio.

Instead, I decided on a more artistic approach. Rather than worrying about whether the thymine and guanine were accurately portrayed, I wanted to just make sure the sculpture looked good. I went with a figure grasping at the DNA strand as it rises heavenly. I called it the “Building Bricks of Life”. It debuted as part of the X PRIZE Foundation’s National DNA Day exhibit at the Saint Louis Science Center. Hopefully kids will see the sculpture made out of this familiar toy and it will inspire them to learn about DNA, or just science in general. Go science!

83" x 16" x 22"