Duke Student Sculpture On View at Durham’s Museum of Life + Science

A New Home for a Big Beetle

Significant Proportions on view in the Ruby in Spring 2019

If you visited the Rubenstein Arts Center last spring, you might have seen a giant beetle hovering outside the film theater, spiny legs each a foot or more long, suspended from the ceiling. This sculpture, Significant Proportions, was made by Susan Hynes ’19 (a Biology and Evolutionary Anthropology major) and is now on view at the Museum of Life + Science in Durham.

“The inspiration for this sculpture was seeded as a young child when I would explore the world of insects with my mom and brother,” explained Hynes. “While at Duke I enrolled in Entomology with Dr. Nijhout where I became intrigued with the rainbow scarab beetle. The class explained the importance of insects to our planet . . .This made me think: What size would insects be if their size reflected their importance within our environment?” Hynes made the work in a Spring 2019 Art, Art History, & Visual Studies Department course in sculpture taught by Stephen Hayes, the Brock Family Visiting Instructor in Studio Arts.

After the beetle left the Ruby, Duke’s John Franklin Crowell Distinguished Professor of Biology H. Frederik Nijhout reached out to the museum to see if staff might be interested in exhibiting it. Butterfly House Director Uli Hartmond explains, “When we saw it, Jennifer Armstrong, our designer in charge of our galleries at the museum and I liked it so much that we just had to have it even though we didn’t quite know yet where it would/could go.”

“It is quite wonderful, and honestly a great addition to the spot where it is hanging,” shared Mitchell Sava, the museum’s vice president of innovation and engagement.

You can see Significant Proportions when the Museum of Life + Science can safely reopen to the public. For now, follow them on Instagram for uplifting updates from their animals.