Chinese netizens have directed their latest ire at a student in Southeast China's Fujian province after she said in a video interview that she used live butterflies to complete her graduation design project.
Thousands left comments on China's Twitter-like Weibo, saying that she was brutal and disrespectful to the animals.
The woman said that only through butterflies can her artistic ideas of "rebirth" be properly expressed, shown in the caterpillar breaking out of the cocoon after becoming a butterfly.
"My professor asked us to recreate a famous painting with various materials and I chose Van Gogh's self-portrait. One day, when seeing a piece of floral craft made of butterflies, the idea came to me," she said.
For the creative audience, making art out of animals is not surprising, but what has drawn criticism is her use of over 500 butterflies in her work, some of which were still alive during the pasting process.
"Her artwork has no aesthetic value at all, not to mention she has no right to kill the butterfly," Weibo user @chenxiao033 commented.
"If she is the keeper, she can do whatever she wants, but not for wild butterflies. Besides, she can totally use fallen leaves to express the same theme," said user @yanyuchangting.
However, one of the most liked comments was from a user who wrote: "If the girl uses caterpillars, will you still think it is ruthless?"
Some think that criticizing the student's method is hypocritical because though butterflies are pretty and beneficial, caterpillars are often leaf-eating, plant-destroying nuisances. Besides, some argue, what she did was no different from making butterfly specimens.
When asked to comment on the negative responses, the student said she was not afraid. "I've been thinking about replacing butterflies with other materials, but insist on doing so just for expressing the theme of 'rebirth'."