From canvas and primer to oil paints and brushes, anyone hardwired to use their right brain knows that when it comes to translating creative inclinations into visual representations, whatever financial resources you might have tucked away can easily be torched during one trip to the art store.

There’s a good reason why the phrase “starving artist” was coined, and yet if we allow ourselves to step outside of the box as the participants of the Museum of Arts and Design’s current “Dead or Alive” exhibit have, there’s really no need to stand in line at another cash register again when Mother Nature offers all of the raw supplies you’ll ever need.

Ever consider using any of the following alternative materials to express your artistic inclinations?

1) Chicken Bones! Whether from last night’s bucket o’ chicken indulgence or your neighborhood barbeques, you KNOW that they’re not safe for dogs to gnaw on…so why not construct museum-like skeletons with them instead? That’s precisely what artist Christy Rupp has done, mimicking extinct birds like auks and dodos with the guidance of friendly paleontology department scientists.

2) Cow Bones! Billie Grace Lynn has fashioned curious gilded sculptural creations with them as well as a customized motorcycle enhanced with a foreboding moo-centric frame. Probably best to keep Fido at least 50 feet away from that bike.

3) Cockroaches! Many eco-sympathizers will go out of their way to scoot ants right back out the door, sidestep spiders and even catch-and-release wayward bees, but when it comes to cockroaches…very few have mercy.  Fabián Peña certainly sheds no tears for the subject of his artworks, choosing to hand-harvest the prehistoric survivors and arrange their various body parts and appendages into textural, multi-tonal images that somehow take on beautifully harmonious appearance.

4) Assorted Dead Insects! Sticking with just one variety can be rather limiting, which is why Wisconsin artist Jennifer Angus prefers to create multi-dimensional vividly colored hand printed wallpaper that immortalizes the bodies of roughly 4,000 assorted tropical insects at a time, including scarab beetles, locusts and weevils. Sadly, she does cut their lives short for the sake of her art but happily asserts that she focuses on using adults so they’ve had the opportunity to procreate first.

5) Anchovies? They may be a great source of Omega fatty 3 acids, but Tracy Heneberger finds the tiny bodies of the wee little swimmers to be aesthetically pleasing when painstakingly arranged in concentric circles and preserved for posterity under copious coats of resin and shellac.

6) How ‘Bout The Whole Kit and Kaboodle? If ever there were a ‘parasitical ecosystem’ to stare at for hours on end and wonder WTF?!?!, Simen Johan’s tangle of sparrow taxidermy meets insect cocoons, creepy-crawly-critter bodies, feathers and foliage fits the bill. This is one artist who apparently believes that more is MORE.

If you’re in the New York City area, be sure to stop by the Museum of Arts and Design to take a look at the organic creations of 30 international artists (including those above) — the exhibit will be running until October 24th, 2010 …and don’t forget to share your impressions of the show with everyone here!

Via New York Times