What can happen when a scientist and a mixed media artist team up? In the case of Maria and Memo, mixed media artist Maria Peñil Cobo and New England Biolabs scientist Mehmet Berkmen, living microbes become agar art.
In this 2017 how-to video guide from the American Society for Microbiology, Peñil and Berkmen demonstrate their process for safely creating images with living microbes.
The duo stirs up their own lab-made agar, but you can purchase sets of agar plates from reputable educational and science equipment companies.
Find more examples in ASM’s archives, including their 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018 Agar Art Contest winners.
• ASM Agar Art Contest.
• Top 5 Agar Tips from ASM.
• Creating Art and Education with Microbes from ASM.
• Inspiring High School Students’ Creativity and Design Thinking with Agar Art from ASM.
• Painting in a petri dish from ScienceInSchool.org, a European journal for science teachers.
Related reading in Smithsonian Magazine: How Microbiologists Craft Stunning Art Using Pathogens.
Watch this video next: Subvisual Subway – The Art of New York City’s Bacterial World.
This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.
Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.