Visibly Complex

Tom Glaser, Associate Professor,
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan

This retina of a laboratory mouse is viewed with Nomarski optics and stained
with an antibody to identify ganglion cells, cone photoreceptors and the inner
plexiform layer (brown). A quarter of a millimeter across, this layered tissue
covers the inside surface of the eye. The human retina is similar, and functions
as a highly organized switchboard that records, processes and conveys all visual
information from the outside world to the brain. In this image, light first passes
through the lens and then enters the retina to excite the cone and finger-like rod
photoreceptors located at the back of the eye near the pigmented epithelial layer
(black). The resulting electrical signals are then relayed stepwise, via delicate
neural tendrils, to the ganglion cells, whose projections join to form the optic
nerve and travel to the brain.

Christine Adams

My love of fabric and its varied possibilities began as a little girl
in my grandfather’s upholstery shop. My intent with Visibly
Complex was not to render a realistic scientific representation,
but to convey the flavor of the image. This project was one of
the few times I’ve worked with whole piece quilting – allowing
free motion quilting to tell the story. I dyed and painted the
fabric both before and after stitching. I also used poetic license in
coloring – bleeding browns to pink and gold and sometimes green.
This was an exciting process. I feel the stitching strengthens the
piece – the dye and paint are an embellishment.

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