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Brief Published: 5 Aug 2020

Covid-19 Visualised as Pattern in Supportive Textile Venture

Sars-CoV-2 collection by Phillip Stearns

To raise awareness of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic – and to provide support to those affected by it – US artist Phillip Stearns has developed a series of textile blankets that visualise the virus through pattern.

The Sars-CoV-2 collection features 16 different jacquard throws, each one with a weave pattern that comes from the Sars-CoV-2 genome, and a ‘glitch’ effect in line with the artist’s distinctive Glitch Textiles

Custom software encodes the nucleotides (the building blocks that make up the virus’s genome) into sequences of coloured pixels, while linear or mosaic forms of distortion disrupt them, intended as a hopeful visual metaphor “showing that the virus can be disrupted with a vaccine”. We note a similar visual approach in our A/W 21/22 Colour & Materials Direction Protest, where creatives are illustrating chaos and hysteria with glitchy artworks in heightened, jarring colour.

A percentage of the proceeds from each blanket is being donated to US support charity National Domestic Violence Hotline, in response to rising (global) cases of domestic violence during the outbreak – a result of stay-at-home/quarantine measures. According to the UN, early data shows that cases and calls for help have increased by 25% to 40% in countries including Australia, France, Argentina and Singapore.

For further forms of art that have served as an outlet for solace and support amidst the unrest of the pandemic, see Creativity in Quarantine and Powerful Graphics for Activism & Social Change.