British artist Rebecca Harris is combining science with embroidery in a commissioned textile for a new exhibition by the Eden Project called “Invisible You: The Human Microbiome.” Harris’ piece portrays a pregnant woman’s figure as a sort of topographical map, with Harris tracing over MRI scan lines to form the body. The body is covered in colorful French knots, representing the skin flora, or microbial community that helps keep humans healthy, she writes on her website, www.rebecca-harris.com. “When I proposed the piece, I said that I wanted the dots to mean something, and I didn’t just want them to be random,” Harris tells The Plymouth Herald. “I wanted to learn more about where specific microbes are, so I asked to be linked up with a scientist.”
The fetus is the only part of the piece not covered in bright dots, illustrating how the womb doesn’t contain a microbial community.
Harris writes on her website that she likes the “bright and tactile” nature of the dots, which allow the viewer to see the positive side of microbes. “All too often the focus is placed on the microbes that harm us,” according to Harris. “Our bodies aren’t blemished by the microbes, but like what I am doing with the embroideries, they are embellishments.”.