Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Art exhibit creates interactive DNA sequence

By Alexandra Figueredo

October 20, 2010 

Miami artist Xavier Cortada is never shy about creating a buzz around his artwork.  

“Would you like to give a sample of your DNA in the name of art?”  

That’s what students donning lab coats and clip boards asked visitors at the opening night of Cortada’s “Sequentia” exhibit at The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum. 

The “Sequentia” exhibit explores the sequence of events that make up life, beginning at the molecular level. The title of the exhibit also references the series of steps the artist will take to create a genetic sequence from a participatory art project at the Museum. 

“The Four Nucleotides” is a series consisting of four large, colorful paintings depicting each of the four bases of a DNA strand that make up all life: Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine and Thymine.  

In “Genetic Sequence,” Cortada invites up to 400 visitors at the Museum to participate in an interactive installation. Participants randomly select a post card depicting one of “The Four Nucleotides” and place them sequentially in a grid on the wall. This will form a genetic sequence that the artist will use to create a DNA strand.  

The clever interactive project has participants “leave their DNA behind” by touching the post cards they select. “In essence, they are exchanging their DNA for one of the 400 drawings hanging in the exhibit,” said Cortada.

Two weeks into the exhibit, Cortada will partner with Dr. Kalai Mathee from the FIU Department of Molecular Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. They will hold several laboratory sessions to determine if the random sequence created in the participatory installation actually exists in the human genome. The presence of the specific DNA strand will be sequenced and analyzed against other existing DNA sequences. All the results will be exhibited in the museum as they become available.  

“Sequentia” runs through January 2, 2011 at the Frost. For more information on the exhibit, visit:

“Sequentia” Solo Art Exhibit by Xavier Cortada
When: Oct. 13, 2010 through Jan. 2, 2011
Where: The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, Florida International University, 10975 SW 17th Street, Miami, FL
Admission: Free 

© 2010, Alexandra Figueredo
To contact the writer, please email her at  

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