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Painting with bacteria is a thing and BUGSS will show you how

It's called agar art and the Baltimore Underground Science Space has a series of workshops coming up. Art and science in one dish!

Agar art. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Leave it to scientists to make something beautiful out of a substance we’re usually told to avoid.
The Baltimore Underground Science Space (BUGSS) is tapping into a technique that uses living things to make art. The Highlandtown community lab space is set to hold workshops on a form of painting with microbes. It’s called Agar art, named after the agar plates. They’re used to cultivate bacteria, but in this case are a canvas.
Alexander Fleming, who famously discovered penicillin, was an originator of the art form, according to the Smithsonian.
“Agar art is where you ‘paint’ using bacteria or yeast on agar plates with different instruments like brushes, toothpicks, and even makeup sponges,” Sarah Laun of BUGSS told us via email.
Microbes can be grown to produce colors by including pigments. Agar artists choose from the colors and create their drawing within the dish (antibiotics are also included with the germs). As the microbes grow overnight, they develop into images.
Bringing art into the lab provides a great way to connect folks with science, Laun said. Along with getting the creativity flowing, it’s also a way to learn about microbes, antibiotics and how we interact with them every day.
BUGGS is partnering with Capital Area Biospace to hold a series of workshop. Two of the workshops are Saturday, March 25, and a third is April 15.
Register
If you want the world to see your agar art, there’s also a chance to enter the American Society of Microbiology’s national contest.

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