I don’t know about you but there are a few places I cannot walk into unless I know I have time to kill. These include: a pet shop, a paper store, an art/craft shop, and a bookstore. It’s when I’m inside these places that my New York-bred ADHD kicks into full gear.
Most recently, I was at a bookstore in Rhinebeck when the beautiful cover art of Biophilia by Christopher Marley caught my eye.
Fascinated by the way he can choreograph these exotic insects into even more exotic compositions, I bought the book immediately. Subconsciously, I’ve always been intrigued by the creepy crawly (probably because they have the power to instill so much fear), but only after taking a good look at the images in his book did I realize that —not only are insects beautiful, but also— there is an enormous amount of art out there that incorporates insects.
Hello… Damien Hirst?
Despite the fact that his work is beautiful, it never fails to elicit a strong reaction from me. His butterfly/insect works are both fantastically morbid yet aesthetically exquisite at the same time, and this leaves me in a state of moral confusion. Should I be horrified by the fact that he bred these butterflies for the purpose of killing them in his art? Or blown away by his artistic mastery in arranging these once living creatures into permanent mandalas?
I think I’m of the former mindset.
Nevertheless, there are other amazing artists who have incorporated insects into their artwork through less controversial methods. Let’s start with Christopher Marley who uses real insects, but collects them after they have lived out their full life-cycle:
I could do a whole post on Marley, but I’ll wait until I get an interview with him. In the meantime, I’m also interested in the work of Canadian artist Jennifer Angus; She is like his female counterpart in the sense that she takes on an ecological responsibility towards her methods of sourcing insects, and also in the way she arranges them. What sets her apart is that her compositions are normally on-site installations, referencing wallpaper and textile designs. Check this one out from her 2012 show at the Lincoln Center Galleries in Fort Collins, CO:
and below are three views from her 2009 installation for the exhibit “Insecta Fantasia” at the Newark Museum:
Beautiful, right? Did I mention these are real insects?! Below are a few more examples of art installations with more once-living bugs:
These installations are the creations of artist Claire Morgan. Not sure I would want them in my apartment, but they’re pretty beautiful in an unsettling sort of way as an installation– in a gallery– not my apartment.
Now that we have gotten through all the live-insect-art, the next group of images are installations of representational insects. Below, the ceramic “Stirring the Swarm” by Anna Collette Hunt cover the walls of Wollaton Hall, England:
The slightly disturbing, but powerful installation “Casa Tomada” by Colombian artist Rafael Gomezbarros carries with it a heavy political message about immigration; at first glance, they appear like an infestation of giant ants, but upon closer inspection, you can see that the bodies are made up of two fiberglass casts of human skulls tied together with strips of dirty white cloth “to depict how the world often sees migrant workers – as vermin”:
In a less creepy, but no less masterful (and more collectibly-sized), artist Brian Chan creates these insects out of a single sheet of paper!
Below is a work by Yumi Okita, who makes moths seem like cuddly creatures:
Kelly Campbell uses scissors, tweezers and blades to create these beautiful sculptures out of books. I’ve seen her work in so many art fairs, but you can actually purchase them off her etsy shop for a pretty reasonable price. This one with the insects is just awesome:
And below, some pretty cool examples of industrial artwork in the shape of insects by Justin Gershon-Gates:
These intricate sculptures are made out of recycled watch parts!
And Sigi Bussinger of the design company Oligo designed this cute lamp after being inspired by a house fly:
Ingo Maurer‘s new designs include butterflies and dragonflies buzzing around decoratively:
And imagine these little guys on your tablecloth? I love these designs by textile artist Catherine Rosselle:
I wanted to conclude with the artistic works of Tomás Saraceno, Aganetha Dyck, and Tomás Libertíny who each collaborate with insects to make art, Saraceno with spiders, and Dyck and Libertíny with bees:
Pretty amazing, right?