You Call That Art?

The following is an article from Uncle John's Triumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader.

If you were to see some of the tacky stuff that adorns the walls here at the BRI, you may not think we are qualified to comment on what anyone else considers art. Well, we say: if dogs can play poker, anything is possible.

(Image credit: Kathy Keatley Garvey/UC Davis photo)

Artist: Rebecca O'Flaherty, the Monet of Maggots

This is Art? When making her paintings, O'Flaherty kind of cheats-she lets the maggots do the work for her. An entomology doctoral student at the University of California at Davis, O'Flaherty is fascinated with the larvae of flies. She dips the maggots in nontoxic paint, then lets them writhe around on the canvas (a piece of white copier paper). Result: unique trails of color and form. O'Flaherty displays her maggot paintings at gallery exhibits and even holds maggot-art workshops for kids. She also teaches forensic officers how to collect maggots at a crime scene for evidence and uses the maggot art as an "icebreaker" to get them used to dealing with the squirmy creatures.

Artist statement: "The activity usually begins with some measure of skepticism or disdain, but the maggots are quick to win over the critics."

Artist: Jessica May, the Rembrandt of Roadkill

This is Art? May, a 24-year-old graduate art student at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, decided that the roadkill lying on the roadside in and around her Midwestern town needed a little sprucing up. So she dressed dead raccoons in baby clothes, put nail polish on the claws of dead possums, and gave a deer carcass a coat of gold spray paint. May wears gloves when she works on her art, because when she finds the animals, they're "pretty far gone".

Artist statement: "I think of this as my way of paying homage to these animals."

(Image credit: Herald Sun)

Artist: Colin Douglas Barnett, the Picasso of Publicity

This is Art? Frustrated that his art wasn't getting the attention he thought it deserved, Burnett, 46, decided to scare up some publicity in Melbourne, Australia. In October 2005, he sculpted a vase out of clay and put it on the sidewalk in front of the National Gallery of Victoria. Labeling it "The Peace Bomb", he called police and reported a suspicious package outside of the building. The gallery was evacuated, the surrounding roads closed, and the bomb squad was called in. Burnett received the press he was looking for, but it came in the form of news stories reporting his arrest. The artist was ordered to pay for the police investigation and sentenced to three months in jail.

Artist statement: "I'm totally embarrassed."

Artist: Wenda Gu, the Kandinsky of Coiffure

This is Art? The Chinese artist was commissioned by Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, to create two installations on their campus. First project: "The Green House," an 80-foot banner made from 420 pounds of human hair. All that hair came from Hanover barbershops, who collected the clippings from 42,000 haircuts and shipped it to Wenda's Shanghai studio, where his workers dyed it bright colors. Wenda then wove the strands together, creating the colorful banner that now hangs in the college library. Second project: "United Nations, United Colors," a seven-and-a-half-mile-long braid (begun in 1993) made from leftover hair donated by wig factories in China and India.

Artist statement: "The banner is a comment on education and capitalism, an the braid represents a utopian vision of unity among nations." (Image credit: Kawakahi Amina)

Artist: Ian Thorley, the Degas of Doormats

This is Art? In October 2006, Thorley, a British performance artist, received a £1,600 grant ($3,176) from the Wansbeck and Blyth Valley town councils for his weeklong art project "Utilitarian Utopia." The project: Thorley wore a badge that said "Government Doormat tester" and stood on a doormat in the middle of a sidewalk for a week. The councils were widely criticized for spending taxpayer money on the art. But they defended their actions, saying that Thorley "provides viewers with a thought-provoking experience."

Artist statement: "It's about drawing attention to, and invoking some sense of, the absurdity of existence and the things that we do."


The article above was reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Triumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader.

Proving that some things do get better with age, the 20th annivesary Bathroom Reader is jam-packed with 600 pages of fascinating trivia, forgotten history, strange lawsuits and other neat articles.

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts.

If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

I'd like to point out that the maggot paintings have been done at the UC Davis entomology lab for YEARS. They have a booth set up at Picnic Day (open house of sorts) where you can try it. We have quite a collection of my daughter's.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"You Call That Art?"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More