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Scientific data represented through traditional frame-loom weavings are super cool, and look real pretty and feel real soft, too.
Scientific data represented through traditional frame-loom weavings are super cool, and look real pretty and feel real soft, too.
72 backers pledged $1,895 to help bring this project to life.

About

Eli Skipp weaves representations of her brother's RNA. project video thumbnail
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$1,895

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Hello! My name is Eli Skipp, and I am asking for your support to get particular parts of my big brother's RNA sequenced.

About two weeks ago I finished the first half of a larger piece titled Bufo marinus. In the first half I wove the 16S, 12S, and valine tRNA sequences from a cane toad, with each base (adenine, guanine, cytocine, and thymine) being represented by a particular color of thread or yarn (red, green, blue, and yellow). This first piece utilized free data discovered via Jennifer B. Pramuk's Bufo phylogeny and GenBank, and thus did not require support or funding.

The first weavings in a gallery space.
The first weavings in a gallery space.
How I organized the bases.
How I organized the bases.
 

The second half, which I expect to take about the same amount of time and materials, will be displayed side by side with the first and will display the same sequences, but from my brother, Henry, instead of from a cane toad.

The story: 

When we were kids, my brother was obsessed with Bufo toads. I think we probably still have some of the taxidermied subspecies from South America laying around our house in Miami -- he was frequently given them as gifts. He'd catch the cane toads all the time after it would rain, even though they would always pee all over his hands. He would also hop around our house like a toad and for a while that was his main mode of transportation (he was around seven at the time). His nickname for as long as I can remember has been "The Toad."

Meet Henry, circa 2011.
Meet Henry, circa 2011.

So both halves of this are in fact about my brother. In a deeper sense they represent a recent struggle in his and my family’s life and the patience, tedium, labor, love, and time that went into getting past this struggle, but I don’t feel comfortable divulging the exact details of the more personal parts of this piece via Kickstarter. Suffice it to say that the mirrored weavings represent two halves of my brother’s life, and that I promise I have critically valid reasons for building both parts.

Cane toad. Image via Brian Gratwicke
Cane toad. Image via Brian Gratwicke
A poorly photographed sketch I did of a cane toad.
A poorly photographed sketch I did of a cane toad.

There is a good chance that you are not swayed by my personal stories, but I'm hoping you will find the completion of this piece worthwhile for another reason, be that its aesthetic or technical merits, or because it speaks to your own interests. Even if you're not into the personal part, it's still a pretty cool way to represent scientific data, right? Right? 

Bufo marinus (first half) on the wall at the CalArts 4x4 show
Bufo marinus (first half) on the wall at the CalArts 4x4 show

What your money is for:

My end goal is $700, and will pay for a lab (ACGT Inc., whom I found through the wonderfully incredible site Science Exchange) to give me the library of Henry's 16S, 12S, and valine tRNA sequences. This covers the sequencing itself, the cheek swab kit, and the extraction of genomic data from said cheek swab -- as well as the 10% worth of fees charged between Kickstarter and Amazon. I am more than happy to cover the cost of yarn and thread, wood, glue, and other materials that the physical piece is built upon, and to give the 30+ hours it will take to complete this beast. I just need the RNA sequences, and that's where you come in.

If I exceed my goal:

In the event that I exceed my goal the extra funds will go towards building everyone's rewards (which in the event of no extra funds, will be paid for out of pocket) and towards building future projects -- this spring I'm building stuffed animal versions of modern weaponry, for example, and batting ain't cheap. They could possibly also go towards further research into this body of work -- who knows, I might build  more of these! I'm open to suggestions.

An embroidery like the embroidery-related reward I am offering!
An embroidery like the embroidery-related reward I am offering!

MEGA THANKS!:

Thank you for reading my description and thinking about my project for a little while. If you're picking up what I'm putting down, please consider supporting my project. Even a couple of bucks would make me the most grateful girl in the world, and in case my undying gratitude isn't enough, you will receive awesome rewards in return! If you're strapped for cash, but still think this piece is worthwhile, maybe you'd do me the honor of spreading the word and/or offering me a critique. Let me know what you like, and what I could stand to improve on, and if there's any questions I'll do my best to answer them tout suite. Art is all about collaboration and participation, and yours would mean the world to me.

Thanks also to everyone who helped me edit this Kickstarter, and to Shipwrek, who wrote the lovely song in the background of my video.

Interesting details about this project that you might like:

The colors chosen to represent each base were chosen because they are frequently used to represent DNA (although sometimes yellow is replaced with black). The 16S, 12S, and valine tRNA sequences were chosen for Bufo marinus (and thus my brother) because these were the sequences used by Jennifer B. Pramuk to determine the place of Bufo marinus in her Bufo toad phylogeny paper. These sequences are used in translation, and were ultimately translated, which is a neat thing. The decision to do simple lines rather than a more complicated weaving was inspired by the often very linear textiles traditional to the Miccosukee Indians in the Everglades of South Florida. The positions of the frames on the wall of the gallery was chosen because it reflected the way GenBank graphs RNA.

Risks and challenges

Luckily I feel that many of the risks and challenges this piece presented were dealt with in the first half of this piece -- issues like time, materials, and learning to build and weave looms, for instance. My current challenge is simply funding, which is why I turn to you. As a broke graduate school student, $700 is a steep price to pay, even to make an important (to me) piece of fibers/textile artwork. I know without a doubt that I can complete this piece if I can procure the RNA sequences, that I know where and how and through whom to get them, and that I can complete it on time to also build all of the rewards I've offered up and get them to everyone on time. Hell, if I beat my goal I'll even put this whole thing on turbo and see if I can finish it in a week, so you guys will get nigh-immediate gratification. The faster this is funded the faster it's finished, and the faster I can get working on your rewards -- maybe in time for Christmas? Come on guys, let's do this!

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    You will be listed as a project supporter and all around lovely human being on Eli Skipp's personal websites, Facebook, and Twitter. (You may also remain anonymous, pseudonyms accepted). This reward applies to anyone who pledges any amount of money!

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    Pledge $3 or more About $3

    Eli will climb to the top of Glendale Peak in Griffith Park and scream a Thank You to you at the top of her lungs over downtown Los Angeles. You will receive a video of this.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Eli will send you a personalized thank you postcard with a cartoon drawn on it, maybe of a dinosaur or something, or you can pick if you'd got something specific in mind.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Eli will make and mail you a nice sketch of an animal native to California or Florida (if neither of those places appeal to you, let me know your home country/state and I'll work with it).

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Eli will send you homemade baked goods -- vegan available. Bacon filled also available. You get to pick sweet or savory and can offer specifications for the kind of baked goods you'd like, but I recommend muffins. Please let me know any allergy info! You will also receive a thank you postcard.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Eli will draw a digital portrait of the person or pet or foodstuff or fictional being or misc. of your choosing. Requires backer to send a reference photo of said person or pet. You can see examples of these at skipp.us.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Eli will make and mail you a small embroidery of something pretty or interesting. If you have a specific subject matter, please make a note.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Eli will make and mail you a stuffed animal of your choosing. It may be two dimensional if it's complicated, but it will be made with love and will be big and squishy and cozy.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Eli will weave and mail you a copy of the valine tRNA from cane toads (Bufo marinus) for you to decorate your home, office, or yurt with.

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    Pledge $700 or more About $700

    The entire piece is yours. Yes, both halves. Add it to your burgeoning collection of contemporary art. You will also receive a thank you postcard and baked goods and a Glendale Peak shout out, not to mention my endless gratitude. Note: you may not receive it until May in the event that it becomes a part of my thesis show, in which case you will also receive a copy of my thesis to go with the piece.

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Funding period

- (30 days)