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Artwork Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the

Discovery of DNA Structure

Hunter O'Reilly's artwork "Rosalind Franklin and the Discovery of DNA Structure" discussed in an art review:

"The digital collages are the masterworks of the exhibit. O'Reilly's
"Let My Family Live! Portrait of Randolfe Wicker, the First Human Cloning Activist," features activist Wicker in the guise of human clone descendants at different stages of life. And the show's bravura "Rosalind Franklin and the Discovery of DNA Structure" features, through positive and negative photographic relief, the unheralded scientist who helped discover DNA. This memorable artwork, as pointed in its social commentary as it is masterful in its sophisticated execution, indicates O'Reilly's art is still growing."

John Carlos Cantu, "Joining art, science: Geneticist's work, on display at Robbins Gallery, explores ethics," Ann Arbor News, September 14, 2002.
Rosalind Franklin and
the Discovery of DNA Structure

Media: digital
Hunter O'Reilly

James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin all played critical roles in the discovery of the DNA structure in 1953. James Watson and Francis Crick are the most famous for this discovery.

As a woman scientist in the 1950s, Franklin faced many difficulties and did not always receive recognition for her accomplishments. Tragically, Franklin died prematurely in 1958 at age 37 due to cancer. James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for the discovery.

A photo of Rosalind Franklin in red is the largest and most prominent in this artwork to give her credit she does not usually receive in the discovery of DNA structure. X-ray photographs of DNA taken by Rosalind Franklin are in the upper and lower right and behind her head. Behind two of her X-ray photographs are images of cells from a developing butterfly wing.

Rosalind Franklin's data and insights were crucial in Watson and Crick figuring out the structure of DNA. A photo in blue of James Watson and Francis Crick using a model to figure out the structure of DNA can be seen in the interior of Franklin's face. A photo of Maurice Wilkins in red is in the lower right. The red and blue shapes in the background are images of mouse chromosomes. A chromosome is a grouping of coiled strands of DNA containing many genes.

Dr. Prakash Hande at the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University generously provided the images of stained chromosomes. The microscopic image of a developing wing of a butterfly was generously provided by Biotechniques: The Journal of Laboratory Technology for Bioresearch, Eaton Publishing and Dr. Stephen W. Paddock at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Copyright © 2002 Hunter O'Reilly