Jen Bervin’s Silk Poems Weave Text Onto Textile

Why We Recommend it

American poet Jen Bervin’s Silk Poems “weaves” her poems on silk films at nanoscale, an invention of a six-year research project (2010–2016) developed with expertise from more than 30 international textile archives, medical libraries, nanotechnology and biomedical labs, and sericulture sites in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.


In 2016, Jen Bervin collaborated with scientists at the Tufts University Bioengineering Department on fabricating her poetry at nanoscale. In this process, a mask was used to etch her poetry in gold spatter onto a silicon wafer, and then liquid silk was poured over the wafer. As the silk dried, the letters remained suspended in the film, resulting in a work that can be viewed through a microscope.

Throughout the exhibition, Bervin’s poetry is recreated in the form of a strand of DNA so as to reflect both the filament pattern that silkworms create when making their cocoon and the genetic structure of silk, which forms like the weft thread in weaving. In the UMAG exhibition ‘Silk Poems’, visual artist and author Bervin melds the medium’s traditional applications with cutting edge research—engaging with silk’s cultural, scientific and linguistic complexities.

Ms Bervin’s exhibition and appearance in Hong Kong are part of 2019’s International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong (IPNHK), a biennial literary festival that will be hosted again this year at UMAG, in collaboration with the poet Bei Dao and the Hong Kong Poetry Festival Foundation.


When: 15 Nov 2019 - 12 Jan 2020 Where: University Museum and Art Gallery – 1/F, Fung Ping Shan Building, 90 Bonham Road – Pokfulam