Endless Forms Most Beautiful Art Competition

This year's theme: Prehistoric Life and Diversification

Darwin Week Art Competitions

In addition to invited speakers, panel discussions, movies, and other activities that have taken place during past Darwin Weeks at SIUC, another integral event is the Endless Forms Most Beautiful Art Competition. Art forms of various kinds (photographs, paintings, sculpture, etc.) are displayed in the glass cases in "Art Alley" on the second floor of the SIUC Student Center.  At the awards ceremony we typically we have a reception that included refreshments. First prize ($100), second prize ($50), and third prize ($25), as well as honorable mentions, are given.

Artwork from the 2015 Darwin Week Art Competition

1. Deanna Zembruski: Department of Zoology
Titles of three paintings: Bioluminescence (Watercolor Firefly), Stridulation (Oil painting of Cicada), and Crypsis (Watercolor of Orchid Mantis)
Description: As one of the most species diverse classes of organisms in the animal kingdom, insects are a great class for showing the variety of diversification, modifications, and adaptations used to survive, and increase their fitness. This series of paintings aims to highlight a few of these adaptations. Fireflies have evolved to have bioluminescence, which aids in courtship and mating. Cicadas have adapted to use stridulation to create different sounds for each species. Lastly, the orchid mantis utilizes crypsis to aid in its predation of other insects.

2. Robin Gordon: School of Art & Design: Metalsmithing
Title: Gold and Pearls
(Silk, pearls, silver, steel, plastic)
Description: This piece is composed of cocoons from the Cricula trifenestrata moth. They are washed, ironed, and cut into squares and framed with freshwater pearls. The cocoons are naturally colored gold. Although these moths are wild as compared to the Bombyx mori moth, they are now being bred to produce cocoons for the silk production industry.
   The practice of breeding silkworms for the production of raw silk, sericulture, has been underway for at least 5,000 years in China. Silk has been used for a variety of purposes aside from cloth production. New developments in uses for silk are still being discovered. Recently the company Vaxess Technologies, a venture-backed life sciences company, has been developing novel heat-stable vaccine formulations based on its proprietary silk stabilization platform. This means that the vaccine is stable without the need for refrigeration and it can be effectively delivered throughout both the developed and developing world. They are hopeful that this technology will be in use in the future.

3. Robin Gordon: School of Art & Design: Metalsmithing
Title: Well Articulated
(Silk, silver, steel, plastic)
Description: This piece is composed of several hundred cocoons from the Bombyx mori moth. They are dyed and then graduated in size from largest to smallest and them framed with sterling silver caps. The cocoons are connected in such a way that they are articulated and can be manipulated. Although these moths are bred to produce uniform size cocoons for the silk production industry, there are still variations and diversity with the size of the cocoon produced.

4. Justin Elden: SIU Alumni
Title: Modern Mesozoic
Description: Abronia graminea, commonly known as the Mexican Alligator Lizard, lives its life in epiphytic bromeliads high in the canopy of cool montane cloud forests. This species is as cryptic as it is beautiful and rarely, if ever, ventures to the forest floor. At first glance the lizard seems prehistoric with its heavily keeled scales and powerful jaws. Though a superficially ancient creature this animal is alive today in the Holocene. Unfortunately, due to having such a specific niche, this species is one logging operation away from joining his more formidable ancestors in the hall of extinction.

5. Marija Gorinshteyn: SIU Alumni
Title: Upstream Battle
Description: Turtles all over the globe are facing man made threats of habitat loss, over collection, and road mortality. The eastern box turtle, Terrepene carolina, was once common across its native range of the United States but is quickly becoming extirpated. Dozens of species across the globe are facing extinction because they cannot coexist with the problems created by humans. Add a very long road to sexual maturity and low survival rate of juveniles and the future of turtles worldwide are bleak and unfortunate. This beautiful species, prehistoric and naturally long-lived, may be just a notch in the fossil record sooner than we'd hope.

6. Cordelia Anderson
Title Pterodactylus
Description: Pterodactylus was a group of pterosaurs that lived in the late Jurassic, about 150 million years ago. Most Pterodactylus fossils have been found in Germany. In the late Jurassic, Germany was a series of islands on the edge of the Tethys Sea, which separated Asia, Europe and North America from Africa and South America. This colored pencil drawing shows a pterodactyl gliding over the Tethys Sea, looking for fish.

7. Nick Flowers: Plant Biology
Title: Southern Illinois: Leaving lasting impressions
Description: A phylogenetic representation of extinct species (large image, bold) found in fossil form in southern Illinois and extant species (small image, italics) for reference. Top Clockwise: Amborella, Huperzia, Sellaginella, Isoetes, Lepidophloios, Lepidodendron, Pecopteris, Polystichum, Equisetum, Calamites, Anullaria, Cordaites, Macroneuropteris, Neuropteris, Pinus, and Ginkgo

8. Lilyan Glaeser: Plant Biology
Title: Diversification of the genus Carex
Description: The reproductive anatomy of plants has evolved in many different ways since prehistoric times. We commonly think of seeds in fleshy fruit or hard casings like nuts. On these window clings are three Carex species; C. bebbii, C. utriculata, and C. paupercula, and their diverse seeds.

9. Renee Hazen: Plant Biology
Title: Haplocanthosaurus delfsi
(Not in art contest, only for display)
Description: This is a watercolor painting of Haplocanthosaurus delfsi from the late Jurassic period, not a Brontosaurus. Surprisingly, there is no such thing as a Brontosaurus. Turns out a sneaky paleontologist placed a Haplocanthosaurus delfsi skull on the wrong body just so that he could claim fame with a new discovery. Nevertheless, this sauropod ("lizard-footed"), is a wonderful dinosaur that reached lengths near 15 m (50 ft) and weighed almost 13 metric tons.

The links below take you to pages for past art shows / competitions.