PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In an effort to further beautify the city of Providence, the Rhode Island School of Design has partnered with Rhode Island Commerce to put out a call for entries with one simple mission: improve upon the state’s legendary Big Blue Bug sculpture.
Despite the sea of submissions from thousands of students, the panel of judges has yet to review a single entry that is able to make improvements to this decades-old advertising ploy, known formally as Nibbles Woodaway.
“I’ve been studying Michelangelo’s ancient techniques for six years, and yet every attempt I make just feels like adorning David with Christmas lights,” said Harris Fishmonger, a Ph.D. sculpture student at RISD and frustrated applicant. “I honestly don’t think it’s even possible to enhance. That fiberglass insect effortlessly follows every principle of classical form. You cannot find an extraneous detail.”
The 4,000-pound structure is alleged to be the world’s largest artificial bug, placing it in the same category as Chicago’s Bean, the world’s largest artificial legume, and Providence’s own Capitol, the world’s largest artificial working government building—both feats of artistic prowess in their own right.
“Blue. Of course. An allusion to its coastal heritage. A nod to our state flag. How else could a giant termite be expressed on the side of the local interstate,” said Veronika Babel, a fourth-year color theory major. “This sort of effortless elegance cannot be taught. It is innate in the few people who are lucky enough to have it.”
Despite thousands of students taught and millions of dollars spent, the institution has yet to interrupt the bug’s 53-year tenure as the most significant work of art on the Eastern Seaboard.
“After abandoning the contest, we decided to just give every employee at the Avenia Sign Company an honorary degree,” said RISD president Art Faye. “We are also holding a dinner to honor every exterminator at Big Blue Bug Solutions. You know what they say: if you can’t beat them, grandfather them into your prestigious institution in an attempt to take some credit.”