We’d like to think that over the course of the last few years, our Belly Button Biodiversity project has inspired quite a few things.
- We’re confident it inspired participants and the millions around the world who heard about the project to think differently, perhaps appreciatively, about their skin microbes, even those inhabiting this funny little spot on your abdomen.
- We’re thrilled it inspired educators from middle school to college to bring Belly Button Biodiversity into their classrooms and labs.
- We know it induced some head scratching among our scientific team and other data-geeks who’ve followed our project and tried to make sense of the patterns of biodiversity we observed and why we can predict common species in a population at large but not at the individual level.
- We’d like to think that Belly Button Biodiversity inspired a wave of other citizen microbiology projects, engaging the public in the study of the microbes living on, in, and around them, from their guts to the seats at their local sports arena.
And now we can say that Belly Button Biodiversity has inspired ART!
New York-based artist Joana Ricou is creating a Bellybutton Portrait Series, inspired by the Belly Button Biodiversity project. And YOU (well, folks in the Research Triangle area…) have an opportunity to participate!
Here’s a description of the project in Joana’s own words:
The Bellybutton Portrait Series is a set of photographs of microbial cultures of individuals that double as portraits of the subject’s microbial selves. The Series exists in two forms: as a participatory experience where visitors swab their own bellybutton to have a portrait made and, as a series of portraits displayed as photos. The portraits invite viewers to consider their other selves, the parts of their body that are not human, and reflect upon the connection they form between ourselves, the world around us and our parents.
Joana recently received a commission for this work from the Eden Project, in Cornwall, UK, for a permanent exhibit on the microbiome. She’ll be visiting North Carolina this week – And she invites you to participate in the Bellybutton Portrait Series!
Come on down to the Instrumentation Lab at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences (Third floor, Nature Research Center) from 5-9p on Thursday, October 23, to swab your belly button and participate in art!
Header image: Bellybutton portrait no.1, C-print, 7 x 9 in, 2012, provided courtesy of the artist, Joana Ricou.