When you think of bacteria, what comes to mind?
For one of my friends (and probably most people), he immediately thinks of “bad.” But for me I think of them as a creative outlet. In microbiology course, our professor has something he likes to call the “LuxArt Competition” (#LuxArt). In this competition, we are tasked with creating microbial artwork on agar plates (a growth medium used to culture microorganisms), with bioluminescent bacteria culture (Photobacterium leiognathi). And as a result, if we look at these plates in the dark, we are given these beautiful, brightly glowing pieces of art like this.
Creating these art pieces is actually a lot simpler than it looks; to get these designs all you have to do is dip a brush of q-tip swab into the bacteria culture and draw onto the agar, just as if it was a canvas. And if you’re not that artistic of a person, you can place the plate over an image and trace the outline. Since I was afraid of messing up and making I mistake, I used that same trick to outline my design.
For this competition, I made two pieces, Homer Simpon’s infamous “D’OH” face and a failed attempt at painting a thinking cartoon bacteria (hence the light bulb).
The prizes awarded for this competition are microbial plushies, each varying in size depending on your place.
Since entering college, I never once thought that I would have the opportunity to make artwork in any of my courses, like those solar system models and dioramas we did back then in elementary/middle school (aside from enrolling in actual art courses). And by being able to compete in this LuxArt competition, it was such a nice refresher to be able to take a step back from academic learning for a little while, and allow for students to express their creative sides. It was nice to see the creativity and individuality of my peers.
If you’re interested in looking at more microbial art, you can look up #Bio350 or #LuxArt on Instagram and/or twitter.
Images courtesy of Professor Martin aka Doc Martin and Google