Do you think of bacteria as nothing but disgusting, troublesome parasites, good for nothing but making you sick?

Well, microbiologist Melanie Smith wants to challenge that perception and has made some fascinating art using nothing but bacteria and petri dishes to show another side to the microorganism. The results are truly something to behold.

Look familiar?

Young modeled this piece on celebrated artist, Vincent Van Gogh’s, classic 1889 painting “The Starry Night.”

While Van Gogh opted for more traditional methods (oil on canvas), Young uses a combination of proteins and yeasts to nurture her beloved bacteria which forms the images and colors as it grows. Sullivan, a Missouri native, definitively got the pieces’ signature swirls down and the avant-garde petri dishes certainly make you reconsider your opinion of the mini-germs.

Sullivan submitted her artwork to the American Society for Microbiology’s first Agar Art contest, a competition inviting microbiologists to get in touch with their cultural sides by exploring the infectious beauty of infectious bacteria, the Huffington Post reports.

Check out the list of winners and runners-up of the contest below.


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