Silk Poems


Jen Bervin

Nanoimprinted on silk film and read through a microscope, the Silk Poems is an experimental work that takes this textile as its subject and form, exploring the cultural, scientific, and linguistic complexities of silk, mending, and the body.

Silk, as a material, is compatible with body tissues; our immune system accepts it on surfaces as sensitive as the human brain.  In conjunction with Tufts University’s Silk Lab, Bervin fabricated a film from liquified silk with a poem written nanoscale in a six-character chain that corresponds to the DNA and the silkworm’s filament drawing method.

This project includes consulting nanotechnology and biomedical labs as well as over thirty international textile archives, medical libraries, and sericulture sites in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Project Updates

  • 2016: In May, designer Paul Jordan at Bark Frameworks expertly fielded an unusual framing query for the MASS MoCA show, tricking out the movable stage of a microscope for the Silk Poems.

  • 2016: In April, Fio Omenetto and Bradley Napier of Tufts University Silk Lab fabricate the poem using a sputter deposit of gold on a cast silk film.

  • “Explode Every Day: An Inquiry into the Phenomena of Wonder,” Curated by Denise Markonish and Sean Foley, North Adams, Massachusetts, May 28, 2016 – April 2017

  • On May 28, 2016, Jen Bervin’s Silk Poems will premiere in the exhibition “Explode Everyday: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Phenomena of Wonder” curated by Denise Markonish and Sean Foley at MASS MoCA.

  • 2014: “Silk Poems” receives a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship

  • 2014: Bervin researches in Istanbul, Turkey at Topkapi Saray Muzesi Archive and in Tbilisi, Georgia at the State Silk Museum

  • 2014: Bervin researches in Venice, Italy at Palazzo Mocenigo, Library of the Study Centre for the History of Textiles; in Como at Museo Didattico della Seta and La Fondazione Antonio Ratti Textile Museum & Library; in Bogliasco at The Liguria Study Center, Bogliasco Fellowship; and in Lucca at Biblioteca Statale di Lucca

  • 2013: Bervin researches in Suzhou, China at Suzhou Silk Museum and Suzhou Silk Embroidery Research Institute, in Suzhou at the Soochow University Silk Engineering Department, in Hangzhou at The China National Silk Museum and in Tongxiang at a small-scale silkworm farm 

  • 2013: Bervin researches in Yokohama, Japan at Silk Museum / Silk Hakubutsukan, in Tokyo at the Tokyo National Museum; and in Kyoto at Orinasu-kan Museum, Nishijin Textile Center and Kyoto Municipal Museum of Traditional Crafts 

  • 2013: Bervin researches in Lyon, France at Maison des Canuts and Musée des Tissus et Arts décoratifs de Lyon; and in Paris at Bibliothèque des Arts Décoratifs and Institut du Monde Arabe / Bibliothèque de l’IMA 

  • 2013: Bervin researches at Columbia University’s Rare Books and Manuscript Library, and Starr East Asian Library and Rare Book Reading Room