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Kindra Crick and sculpture
Portland artist Kindra Crick shows off “What Mad Pursuit,” a sculpture inspired by the work of her grandfather, DNA pioneer Francis Crick. (Credit: Alex Crick / @crickontour)

The granddaughter of genetic pioneer Francis Crick joined 20 other artists to create a series of 7-foot-high sculptures inspired by DNA’s double helix – and now those sculptures are going on the auction block to benefit cancer research.

Portland artist Kindra Crick told GeekWire she took on the project for several reasons: She’s trained as a molecular biologist as well as a painter, and her grandparents include the late Nobel-winning biologist and his artist wife, Odile Crick. What’s more, proceeds from the auction will go to the Francis Crick Institute, a London facility that’s due to open next year with backing from Cancer Research UK and five other leading medical research organizations. The two-week online sale begins on Wednesday.

Francis Crick, who won the Nobel Prize with colleague James Watson for revealing the double-helix structure of DNA, died in 2004 at the age of 88 after battling colon cancer.

“This seemed like the perfect project, not only to bring awareness to the institute, but also to use my skills and my background to present this beautiful union of art and science,” Kindra Crick said.

Christie’s and the Crick family made headlines in 2013 when a letter that Francis wrote to his son, Michael, in 1953 sold for $6 million. In that letter, Francis detailed his yet-to-be-published DNA discovery and included a sketch of what he said was the molecule’s “beautiful” structure. That sketch is part of Kindra’s sculpture as well, portrayed on a chalkboard-like background. The artwork also incorporates notations drawn from the chalkboard that stood in Francis’ lab, plus cellular imagery on a blue background – all edged with a golden helix.

“I love to have little moments of discovery in my work,” Kindra said.

Kindra Crick’s sculpture is titled “What Mad Pursuit,” in a nod to Francis Crick’s 1988 autobiography. It will be sold along with 21 other works of art that use the double-helix design as a blank slate for artistic visions. (World-famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei contributed two untitled sculptures.)

Kindra Crick said the auction also will also offer a print-on-metal rendition of Francis Crick’s chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA, which is signed by modern-day genomics pioneer J. Craig Venter and titled “The Crick Genome Portrait.” With the Crick family’s assistance, Venter is in the midst of sequencing Francis Crick’s genome and plans to put it in the public domain, she said.

For more information about the auction, check out Cancer Research UK’s reports on the sculptures and the artists behind them, as well as Christie’s signup page for the sale.

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