You're Painting with What?

Apr 8, 2009

If you want to create art that's bound to be a conversation piece, you need to head over to Briggs Hall at the University of California, Davis on Saturday, April 18.

April 18 is the 95th annual UC Davis Picnic Day, a campuswide event that showcases, the organizers say,  "the richness and diversity of campus life."

Make that "the richness and diversity of insects," too.

Briggs Hall, home of the Department of Entomology since 1972, is where bugs rule.

Forensic entomologist Rebecca O’Flaherty, a doctoral candidate in entomology, will be there with her free “Maggot Art” event.

She’ll provide the maggots, non-toxic paint, and paper. Your job is to pick up a  maggot with specially designed larval forceps, dip it in paint (your choice of colors), place it on white paper, and let the maggot do its thing--which is to crawl across the paper. Voila! Maggot Art.

It’s one-of-a-kind art suitable for framing or posting on the refrigerator. Your Aunt Gertrude will be proud. 

Maggot Art is actually the educational teaching curriculum that O'Flaherty coined and trademarked in 2001 while she was studying entomology at the University of Hawaii. She launched Maggot Art as a community outreach project to teach youths about the fascinating world of insects. 

Since 2001, she’s taught thousands of students the “art of Maggot Art”  in the classroom, while also providing information about blow flies. She's a skilled Maggot Art artist herself.  In 2007, she coordinated a Maggot Art Show at the Capital Athletic Club, Sacramento, with colleagues and fellow artists Brandi Schmitt and Charlotte Wacker.

Maggot Art has been a tradition at Picnic Day since 2003.  Kids usually love it, but that's not  always true for adults. The "yecch" factor sometimes kicks in, she admits.

O'Flaherty's major professor, forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey, who chairs the Department of Entomology's Picnic Day celebration, estimates that the "bug events" at Briggs draw 3,000 people.

Maggot Art, Termite Trails, Cockroach Races and Honey Tasting are just a few of the events that will be offered at Briggs Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bugs rule. They do, indeed.


By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist

Attached Images:

MAGGOT ART will be offered at the UC Davis Picnic Day for the seventh consecutive year. It's about dipping a maggot in non-toxic, water-based paint and letting it crawl across white paper. Maggot Art was coined by forensic entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty, who is seeking her doctorate at UC Davis.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Maggot Art

SEA CREATURE--Forensic entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty of UC Davis created this Maggot Art piece titled

Sea Creature

COMBINING ART AND SCIENCE--Rebecca O'Flaherty, who coined and trademarked

Combining Art and Science