With their oblong bodies and shovel-shaped heads, it is easy to find planarian flatworms unassuming. However, these worms have a superpower: regeneration. They can heal without visible scars and can clone themselves by ripping off pieces of their own tail. Planarian flatworms are found all over the world. Here in Kansas City, The Stowers Institute of Medical Research studies the species Schmidtea mediterranea to understand the worms’ regenerative abilities.
Planaria Passages features colorful Schmidtea mediterranea intermingling in a blue to red gradation. Although these worms are not naturally found in rainbow colors, a little food coloring in their food is enough to harmlessly change their appearance. For this project, all images were captured with a microscope. These enlarged photos showcase details such as the worm’s two eye-like photoreceptors and the lacy gut spanning their body’s length. Each creature becomes a tile in this collaged mosaic, flowing in busy circles like synchronized swimmers. This project aims to raise awareness of these sprinkle-sized flatworms, printing them larger-than-life and taking them from Swope Park and Stowers Lab to downtown Kansas City.
KC Streetcar Metro Center Northbound Stop
12th Street and Main St.
Body of Inquiry is a collaboration between four Kansas City artists and scientists, Mol Mir, Steph Nowotarski, William Plummer, and Jason Pollen. Inspired by planarian flatworms’ incredible regenerative ability, together they make art with and in response to these animals.