UW Student To Seek Artistic Collaborators In Arctic, Sets Sail June 2021

Apr 8, 2020

The microbe known as Verrucomicrobium spinosum, catalogued by microbestiary.org
Credit Dennis Kunkel and James T. Staley

The microbesitary is a University of Wyoming program and website that seeks to illustrate the microbial world.

Program coordinator Erin Bentley is hoping the program will get a boost from a trip she is taking to the Arctic Ocean.

The Microbestiary invites professional artists to offer their takes on individual and specialized microbes.

"We use, essentially, art to make science more accessible," Bentley said. "So, the idea behind the microbesitary is to show that the microbial world is just as interesting and engaging as the macro world, even though people tend to pay less attention to the diversity in it."

A traditional bestiary is a guide - or compendium - of various creatures, often with descriptions and illustrations.

"So, the microbestiary is taking that concept and focusing into the microbial world," Bentley said. "The idea was to have a variety of artistic responses to match the variety of microbes."

On an expedition to the Arctic next summer, Bentley is hoping to recruit more artists to take part in the project. She is one of 40 artists and scientists headed north on a specially outfitted sailing vessel.

The voyage is hosted by an expeditionary residency program that brings together professionals from varied disciplines.

"I'm hoping to get some collaborations out of that," she said. "I'm hoping to get some of them to contribute to the bestiary."

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Jeff Victor, at jvictor@uwyo.edu.