News alert: Gigantic insects have infested BREC's Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center.
And they're not going away anytime soon.
These larger-than-life insects incubated at Glasgow Middle School last spring as an art project by sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade Talented Visual Art students, under the direction of art teacher Geeta Dave.
The colorful creatures now hang on the walls at the center, but they also can be found in their small, everyday forms in and around Bluebonnet Swamp. That's why Jessica Guthrie, the center's guest services coordinator, asked Dave and her Talented Art class to launch the bug invasion, giving guests a look at some of the swamp's indigenous creatures.
Dave first tackled such an insect project in 2011, inspired by a "Good Morning America" interview with insect mosaic artist Christopher Marley, who uses real, albeit it dead, bugs to create his art.
But Dave wanted to do something more, to blow up the insects' size to dramatic proportions.
Her students chose spiders, dragonflies and more, researched them, then produced sketches. They then shaped wire to form the bugs' skeletal bases and covered it with papier-mâché. Finally, the bugs were detailed with acrylic paint.
For the Bluebonnet project, students formed teams to produce 18 insects that now hang in the Bluebonnet Swamp's welcome center. Their work was interrupted by LEAP test preparations in the spring, so work was postponed until the fall semester.
"About seven students went to high school in the fall semester, but the other students in the groups returned," Dave says. "But we'll still put the students' names who went to ninth grade on the project."
The bugs range from butterflies to beetles, moths to dragonflies and even some strange creepy-crawlies whose colors are too beautiful to make them scary.
The project exercises the students' artistic skills and merges art and science into a learning experience, by creating intricate and detailed models of Louisiana's unique bugs.
"The objective is to incorporate creativity into raising awareness and conveying knowledge about the anatomy and unique characteristics of each Louisiana bug," Dave says. "And to show that even simple materials can be used in making complex artwork."