Astana resident creates Kazakh ornaments from bacteria

Astana resident Dinara Uspanova draws Kazakh ornaments such as atbas (horse’s head), agash (tree), tumarsha (amulet for women), okshegul (floral ornament), and shanyrak (dome of the yurt) with bacteria. Bioartist works as a virologist in a laboratory in the Kazakh capital. She had the idea of the unusual method of painting national patterns for a long time but managed to implement it recently at a workplace creative contest.

“I was participating in a contest and came up with this idea. I’ve chosen the Kazakh ornaments, since nowadays we are slowly leaving our traditions and customs behind. So, it’s a good way to remember our origins and roots, to remember who we are, and the crafts Kazakh women, our grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and mothers used to do. I mean, Kazakh art is not just an ornament, every symbol has a sacred meaning,” said virologist and bacteriologist, Dinara Uspanova.

In her work, Dinara uses bacterial colonies instead of paints and Petri dishes instead of canvases. According to the artist, a special nutritional environment is required to create such vivid pictures. The microorganisms acquire a specific pigment based on their type. Escherichia coli strains, for example, produce a red or pinkish-brown color. That’s what makes the pictures so colorful. The bacteriologist points out that canvases made of bacteria cannot be stored.

“As soon as I grew bacteria and created these ornaments, I did not keep them for a long time. I immediately disinfected and eliminated all bacteria in accordance with the safety regulations. These bacteria were isolated by a pure colony of bacteria, they grow only under certain conditions, on a certain nutrient medium, it was all grown in accordance with standard microbiology methods,” Uspanova added.

Microbiology is a real art, which is unique in its beauty, Dinara opines. The young scientist is eager to grasp all the knowledge of this scientific field. She plans to defend her thesis, get a PhD and make her contribution to the development of science in Kazakhstan.