For a while, the third floor of Black Hills State University's Woodburn Hall looked like a scene out of Disney Pixar’s movie "A Bug’s Life.” Unusual bug creations lined the hallway each one as unique as the students in BHSU instructor Ann Porter’s art class.

For the fall semester’s first assignment, students in the 100-level 3D design class were challenged to create a life-size cardboard self-portrait as a bug. The class is part of the required core for art and art education majors, Porter said.

“The bugs are more personal than you may initially think,” said Porter who was sitting between two such bugs.  A student who plays the violin created her bug in the shape of the instrument, Porter said. “All of these important, personal things to the student came out in their projects,” she said. “They worked hard and came up with these riotously funny things.” The self-portrait bugs, made from recycled cardboard, have now found homes throughout Woodburn Hall. Some can be seen relaxing on couches, others hiding in corners and hanging from the ceiling.

The art students used old paper towel boxes, packing material and brightly colored soda containers to create their masterpieces. After decorating Woodburn Hall, the bugs will be recycled once again.  The bug project follows BHSU’s commitment to sustainability. The University will participate in “National Campus Sustainability Day” Wednesday, Oct. 24 to inform the community and BHSU students about what is being done on campus and in Spearfish to decrease its impact on the environment.

Porter always tries to do a large-scale cardboard construction project for her beginning level art students. “It allows students to go from two-dimensional to three-dimensional, and if they make mistakes it doesn’t cost that much,” she said. “It is easier to see your mistakes when you work big, and it’s a more exciting and dramatic finished project for the start of the semester.”  It follows the same process as working with steel except students use cardboard instead of steel and hot glue instead of welding, Porter said.  

“It is a productive way for students to get their feet wet,” she said.  

In past years, the cardboard projects included creating an abstract shape with only a 1 x 1 base; and “Underthe Sea” where students had the flexibility to design whatever sea creatures came to mind. “I really try to mix it up.”

Porter said she loves seeing what her students come up with and uses their creations to connect with them, especially at the beginning of the semester.

“That’s how I really get to know the students, through their art work, and that is more fun than I can say,” she said.

The students’ next assignment is to create a fossil that archeologists who come upon our civilization millions of years from now would discover, Porter said.