January 8, 2020
studio research and site visit to biological laboratory vivarium
Lampire Biological Laboratories
In Spring of 2018, I began a residency at a biotech company that specializes in antibody discovery. I became interested in their use of non-human species for the production of antibodies for human drugs. Llamas, alpacas, chickens, and sharks are used to produce biological products for therapeutics including vaccines and antiviral treatments. My peaked interest circuitously led to being given over 200 pounds of wool from the shearing of laboratory llamas and alpacas living in rural Pennsylvania. I had the opportunity to visit one of these labs in January 2020 shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the U.S. I was given a very gracious 3-hour tour of their sprawling 600-acre farm that houses 1000’s of animals used to produce biological products such as blood, tissues, and organs. I plan to return to this field research post-pandemic and in the meantime will continue to wash, card, and spin the abundant piles of wool in my studio for developing bodies of work. In the meantime, I have continued to research how the “biotechnological apparatus” continues to expand with the use of transgenic animals such as mice to produce llama and alpaca nanobodies that can neutralize SARS-CoV-2 variants.