The Norman Transcript

February 2, 2013

Bug-themed exhibits creating a curious buzz

By Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Joaquin Pittman doesn’t like the taste of bugs. But that won’t stop him from someday studying the creepy-crawlers as an entomologist.

The 7-year-old was one of more than 650 people enjoying — some eating, some only observing — arthropods at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History’s Friday night opening reception for its two newest bug-themed exhibits.

“They’re interesting,” Pittman said on why he loves bugs.

And he’s not the only one that thinks so.

Katrina Menard, Sam Noble invertebrates curator, said the two exhibits — Bugs …Outside the Box and Beautiful Beasts: The Unseen Life of Oklahoma Spiders and Insects — are a way to inspire the public to view the small

critters as beautiful, rather than bad.

“There’s so much beauty on earth and it’s not just the big stuff,” Menard said. “Little, little beautiful bugs that if someone just took the time to look at them and just stop and just give them a chance — there’s so much you could see and learn from them.”

Bugs…Outside the Box presents a selection of enlarged insect sculptures. Artist Lorenzo Possenti uses powerful magnification and actual specimens to create each sculpture with remarkable accuracy.

Butterflies with 5-foot wingspans and 4-feet-long beetles, are only two examples of Possenti’s works.

Beautiful Beasts showcases colorful macrophotographs of insects by Oklahoma-native artist Thomas Shahan. Alongside each photograph is a description of where and how the photographs were taken.

Shahan has become an advocate for arthropod education and just wants others to learn to love bugs more.

“If there’s one thing I want people to get out of it is, for the most part these guys are harmless and many are very beneficial,” Shahan said on what he wants others to learn from his exhibit.

Beautiful Beasts is made possible, in part, by the Norman Arts Council Grant Program.

Entertainment during the opening reception included a performance from The Bug Chicks, Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker, two entomologists whose mission is to provide a fresh look on insects and spiders through multi-media presentations.

Reddick said she wants her audience members to learn to turn fear to fascination.

“Our goal is to inspire people to fall in love with arthropods because they are such an important part of the planet,” Reddick said. “And we also want people to get over their fears. Because when you get over your fears of one thing, you’d be amazed at what your life could be — because I used to be afraid of bugs and so was Jes.”

The Bug Chicks are continuing their entertainment during two additional performances today at the museum.

Other activities throughout the night included various booths to ask questions about bugs, craft projects and even the chance to try out an edible bug — like crickets and chocolate-covered ants.

Laura Figueroa, University of Oklahoma student worker at the museum passing out edible bugs, said all the reception guests have been very open-minded about tasting the insects.

“I think they’re a great alternative to the current food system,” Figueroa said, laughing.

Hannah Cruz


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