© FEMS 2017. All rights reserved. In the modern educational framework, life science and visual art are usually presented as mutually exclusive subjects. Despite this perceived disciplinary contrast, visual art has the ability to engage and provoke students in ways that can have important downstream effects on scientific discovery, especially when applied in a practical setting such as a laboratory course. This review broadly examines the benefit of interdisciplinary fusions of science and art as well as recent ways in which art strategies have been used in undergraduate biology classrooms. In a case study, we found that undergraduate students in an introductory microbiology laboratory course who participated in open-inquiry activities involving agar art had greater confidence in their personal efficacy as scientists compared to a control class. Collectively, these observations suggest that visual art can be a useful enhancement in the course-based undergraduate research setting, and science educators at all levels should consider incorporating artistic creativity in their own classroom strategies.