Artist Highlight: Paul Vanouse

Paul Vanouse transfers prepped samples into a electrophoresis gel box

Paul Vanouse, an artist by trade, inquisitive by nature, uses techniques borrowed from many disciplines to create a series of thought-provoking and, in some cases, deeply political, pieces. Often his art uses technology in ways that are less than traditional, organizing chaotic data sets and visualizing things that are typically abstract.

The “Mixing Pot”

His latest piece, The America Project, takes on the challenge of organizing and unifying one of the greatest codes in our age, the human genome. He uses molecular biology and forensics technology to “paint” iconic symbols using his knowledge of the shared characteristics of human genes and genetics. Using a common laboratory techniques such as DNA extraction and gel electrophoresis, Vanouse creates art from our similarities.


Guest / DNA donors pour a saline solution that’s been swished around in their mouths for a quick sample of their own cheek cells.

He uses DNA samples collected from visitors to the gallery via a simple cheek cell rinse, and manipulates the combined pool of DNA to visualized ‘symbols’ of America, such as a flag, to represent how the innate “sameness” that everyone shares in their genome can be used to create a singular unified image.

Paul Vanouse explains the science behind one of his images.

Paul is the director of Coalesce Center for Biological Art at the University of Buffalo where he continues to create unique bio art using DNA techniques.

Details: Exhibit runs from October 20, 2016 through November 19th at the Esther Kline Gallery, part of the Science Center community.

Paul Vanouse:

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