In the air, water, and even under foot, insects inhabit every domain of our daily lives, performing essential functions that balance our fragile ecosystem on earth.

By using cutting-edge technology and custom methods, artist Bob Sober created Small Wonders: Insects in Focus, an exhibition of breathtaking beauty that allows viewers to see this hidden world like they’ve never seen it before.

Small Wonders aims to inspire, in an artistic way, our natural curiosity to understand the form, function, and diversity of nature. The exhibition opens Jan. 29 at the Stauth Memorial Museum and will be on display for seven weeks through March 16.

Insects have been on earth 350 million years, while sharing the planet with humans for only the past two million years.

Hundreds of thousands of insect species have been documented (scientists believe 30 million may exist), far outnumbering the total of all other animal species. Insects are so prolific that thousands share our own backyards.

Creating human-scale images of insects, with resolution so high that every hair, dimple, and tiny structure is clearly revealed, was impossible prior to the technological advancements of the past ten years.

High-resolution digital cameras, fast personal computers, economical digital storage, and powerful software applications capable of assisting with the assembly of hundreds or thousands of individual photographs create the opportunity to capture accurate images of insects as they truly exist.

These new ways of seeing confront viewers with the idea that insects display the elements we attribute to good design or beautiful artwork. Colors like neon green, sapphire blue, crimson red, deep violet, and brilliant yellow are all part of the insect world.

Wild, multi-colored patterns sometimes come from hair, sometimes from iridescent scales, and other times from colors integral to the insect’s exoskeleton.

Smooth metallic finishes and heavily stippled texture may exist on the same insect. Strange body shapes, delicate wing structures, and beautifully engineered body components captivate. These tiny creatures are indeed artwork, in every sense of the word.

Bob Sober, a visual artist as well as technological pioneer whose photographic techniques are the subject of educational tutorials, offers a series of 30 images that bring the natural world to a scale rarely experienced until now.

Small Wonders finds viewers at the intersection of art and science, and brings together two fields of thought in a provocative and inspiring way. The exhibition is organized by ExhibitsUSA, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance.

Small Wonders: Insects in Focus is partially funded at the Stauth Memorial Museum by a grant from The Arthur and Cornelia Scroggins Foundation Fund at the Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas.

The Stauth Museum asks to call in advance for groups of five or more with tours and groups welcome by appointment.

Contact 620-846-2527 for information or to set up a tour.

Hours for the Stauth Museum, 111 N Aztec Street in Montezuma, are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 4:30 p.m.

They are closed on Mondays and all major holidays.

Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted to help pay for the exhibit.

Visit www.stauthmemorialmuseum.org for up-to-date exhibit and museum information.