Genomic Tapestries

Alison Irvine and Andy Cavatorta


Inspired by the Jacquard loom, the artists used genomic data sets from three genes to generate designs to be woven into tapestries. All of these genes have the potential to be altered using CRISPR gene-editing technology. 

The project was made in a series of explorations into the future of CRISPR gene-editing technology, machine learning, and automation.


The Jacquard loom was created in 1804-1805 by Joseph-Marie Jacquard. It was the first machine to use punch cards to store digital information to produce complex patterns for use in textile design. The Jacquard loom was a revolution in automation and was an important stepping stone to modern computing. The loom as an artifact represents the birth of automation and an exploration of society losing control over the effects of its technologies.

A. Irvine - APOE Gene: Alzheimers.png

APOE Gene

Alzheimer’s Disease

The APOE gene provides instructions for making a protein called apolipoprotein E. This protein combines with fats (lipids) in the body to form molecules called lipoproteins.

The e4 version of the APOE gene increases an individual’s risk for developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease of the brain that causes dementia, which is a gradual loss of memory, judgment, and ability to function.

Source: Genetics Home Reference

Genetic Sequence

GRCh38.p13 Reference Genome

Chromosome 19

NC_000019.10:44905796-44909395

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CCR5 Gene

HIV Resistance

The CCR5 gene encodes a member of the beta chemokine receptor family, which is predicted to be a seven transmembrane protein similar to G protein-coupled receptors. This protein is expressed by T cells and macrophages, and is known to be an important co-receptor for macrophage-tropic virus, including HIV, to enter host cells. A genetic mutation in the gene known as CCR5-delta 32 is responsible for the two types of HIV resistance.

Source: Genetics Home Reference

Genetic Sequence

GRCh38.p13 Reference Genome

Chromosome 3

NC_000003.12:46370142-46376206

Deletion: 46373456-46373487

Jacquard Pre-Layout 2.png

HBB Gene

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease (SCD) affects nearly 100,000 Americans and millions more globally. SCD patients share a single-letter DNA mutation that makes red blood cells become crescent-shaped, or “sickled.” These distorted cells get caught and block blood vessels, causing immense pain and poor oxygen transport through the body. It is most common among people whose ancestors come from Africa; Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Turkey, and Italy; the Arabian Peninsula; India; and Spanish-speaking regions in South America, Central America, and parts of the Caribbean.

The first human trials for SDC using CRISPR began in 2019.

Source: Innovative Genomics Institute

Genomic Sequence with Mutation

5” ACT CCT GTG 3”

3” TGA GGA CAC 5”