The Insect Art of Laura Schlipf

Scratch some insect art and you find a swarm underneath. A found image of beautifully carved insect legs led me to the work of versatile artist Laura Schlipf.  Being a fan of insect legs as an art theme, I hunted down more of her work, and found that her works continuously orbited the themes of biology, decay, and entomology.

carved legs of swarming insects: locust, ant, honeybee. by Laura Schlipf

flea, by Laura Schlipf

Several of her works show insects in what seems to be various states of decay, such as a possible cordyceps fungus infection.  According to Laura:

I was researching mental illness(es) at the time, and the drawings came out as sort of my way of abstractly illustrating mental/physical/behavioral abnormality and disorder. Systems/patterns/bodies failing. The first drawings I made were entirely pattern and texture, and after making those I thought I’d try applying my drawing strategy — creating an orderly system and then wrecking it — to something identifiable and relatable, and I sort of arbitrarily chose insects. I could have picked just about anything else, chairs or rocks or seaweed or anything, but I chose bugs, maybe just because I have always been fond of them..

Locust Swarm, bass wood and glue. by Laura Schlipf

There’s plenty on her tumblr site to enjoy for the science artist: silk prints of salivary glands, and graphite artworks viewable only by stereo microscope. But my absolute favorite (other than the woodwork) is her meditation of the fear “of deep holes in surfaces”, made manifest in the form of an ominously pitted wasp nest, crafted of wax and stone.

Nest, wax and stones. By Laura Schlipf

Nest, wax and stones. By Laura Schlipf


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