infime from Cut And Cook Studio. Can't get enough of the fantasy macro action! For those with fat bandwidth, see it in fullscreen.
A Thanksgiving trip to Istanbul found me at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art on a rainy week-day, enjoying an enthralling collection of contemporary artworks. Along with an absolutely top-notch Design Biennial, the museum had on display a sweeping retrospective of Turkish artwork, nearly all of it unknown to this westerner's eye. Photography was forbidden in the museum, but for one picture I couldn't help myself, and you can see why. And now I'm glad I did, because Ergin İnan is one majorly prolific insect-obsessed artist. Unfortunately there is little online about İnan in English, and the esoteric discussions in Turkish about his art practice are hopelessly garbled by services like Google Translate. Something about a childhood letter that he drew insects on? A contemplation of transformation of the spirit and mind? I'm left to my own devices on his symbolism, but that won't stop me from enjoying his paintings. In İnan's works, insects seem to hold the key to the gateway to magical worlds beyond, full of incantations, prayers, and poetry. The care and reality in which he renders his invertebrate subjects is often at a deep contrast to his vertebrate ones. His human portraits are ghostly gossamer shades, just as translucent as the prodigious dragonfly wings that sprout from their backs amidst clouds of arabic text. Or else they look like technicolor Bacon-esque smears, their souls made visible only in the form of a resplendent scarab beetle. I hope to showcase more of İnan's art in the future, and possibly track down some coherent criticism regarding his themes and feelings towards his favorite subject. But for right now I am just thrilled that a sneaky snapshot in a museum led me to one of Turkey's foremost insect artists. Güzel!
I haven't wanted a paper calendar in about a decade, but this beautiful letterpress postcard calendar collection from Benjamin Paul Studio has changed my mind. The prints are detailed, vibrant, and have a lovely cast of invertebrate denizens. (Though I am curious as to what happened in November- did somebody get eaten?) Their website shows where you can purchase them in the US, though I found mine at The Gardener in Berkeley. And remember folks, May is International Fulgoroid Month!
DonorsChoose is a wonderful site that you will fall in love with. So much of a teacher's time is spent acquiring the most basic materials for their classrooms. When I think of the mountain of science books and art materials I had at my preschool fingertips, it saddens me to think of all those hungry young minds out there without a single extra insect textbook, or hand lens, or materials to learn about basic insect anatomy. The ever-awesome Bug Girl has put together a page just for Bug Bloggers, full of classrooms laying out what science projects they need. Have a look, and help wake up kids to the larger world of insects. An Oakland classroom looking for science art materials? Don't Mind If I Do(nate)! And if for some reason you're more into plants or planets, there's a whole set of blogger-curated group pages. Plus If you use the match code "SCIENCE" this week, all donations will be matched! Or find your own thing to donate to! A little or a lot, it goes straight to the schools, and it's mighty easy. Donating certainly helped me relax a bit. No matter what, some kid is going to get a handle on what insects are, and that makes me hopeful for our future. A future filled with pupae.Okay yes it's a parody of a corny song, but by gumballs it's the eve before a nail-biting election, and no matter what happens tomorrow, the best thing I can do to calm my nerves is to help some underprivileged kids have art/science materials. Right? Right.
No sooner do I post about butterfly psychopomps, than one comes straight through my door! My friend and prodigious printmaker Kristian Johnson Michiels gave me a hand-watercolored print of her beautiful super-detailed Spirit Butterfly, a super honor. My camera cannot do justice to the fierce color depth or glinting gold leaf curling around the wings and clouds. So glad to have another insect-artwork from a dear friend! Which reminds me, I should share the other insect works I've been gifted over the years..
Kirk Maxson's hallway installation of pinned paper butterflies is now gone from San Francisco's Eli Ridgway gallery, but hopefully he has more butterfly-installations planned for future exhibitions. Of all the Cut Paper Swarms of Butterflies that I've seen, his is the most diverse in species, and a great combination of light arrangement and somber content. Butterflies are perhaps the biggest winners in the insect public relations contest, rivaling honeybees for instant connection and fondness in the heart of even the most committed entophobe. They move slowly, wear bright colors, and don't bite or invade our homes or parasitize our young. Their scale-covered wings and gentle demeanor give them a free pass among humanity. But in ancient cultures worldwide, butterflies have had a slightly more ambiguous relationship. Ancient Greeks, Aztecs and Aboriginal Australians are just a few of the many cultures who considered butterflies to be creatures associated with the dead, either escorting lost souls, or the departed themselves. Though it's a fearful topic, involving lepidopterans with death is also an association of hope. Who wouldn't want to envision the end of life's struggle and toil as one lived in slow serene flight? No better and more poignant way to depict this association than with Kirk Maxson's installation 'War'. Pages of war, violence, and anguish, pulled from color travel magazines, are cut and segmented into discrete butterfly silhouettes, whose flocking forms retain the original image. The various kinds of butterfly species are stunning- very few are repeated! Io moths, monarchs, skippers and blues all clustered in the halls of the gallery, allowing the eye to assemble a picture whose participants may be long dead themselves. Though we are implicated in viewing dispassionately such images through the safety of National Geographics, the butterflies are themselves blameless. They are as ever quiet couriers, dispersing strife into softness by the slow beat of their wings.
Steve Irvine. Check out the full beauty of this image at the National Geographic site. It's like a lepidopteran cloud chamber of moth particles!A stunning 20-second exposure photograph of moths spiraling towards the light in the Ontario darkness by
Visitors to the Seattle Space Needle will get a special arachnid surprise when they look out over the observation platform! Two humongous harvestman spiders have been painted on the roof of the Seattle Center Armory by scientific illustrator and muralist Marlin Peterson. From his website it's clear that he has a soft spot for arachnids of all kinds. What a treat to get to celebrate such graceful and delicate creatures on such a colossal scale! As Marlin tells it, "My mural will be 2 huge, huge Opiliones arachnids hanging out like we always see them, casually and vertically on a wall or roof. They will be approximately 1 zillion times life-size, depending on the site I get. I chose them because of the cool way their long legs cast shadows, and that they are not threatening- they don’t have venom, fangs, and thus don’t bite humans. They are a familiar sight here in Seattle and contrary to popular belief, they are not even spiders!" To make a trompe l'oeil with so much shadow-work and at such a size just staggers my brain cells. It's truly an inspired mural, and it was made possible thanks to a Washington arts grant. Last time I visited Seattle I skipped going up the Space Needle.. but that was before it was surrounded by giant invertebrates. Now I have to go!
So what's your most favorite song about Trilobites? Come, come, you must have at least one! Mine is by Robyn Hitchcock. He doesn't actually sing the song until 2+ minutes in, but honestly it's the elaborate pre-explanation he gives that makes me heart this song even more. Happy Friday, all you Gloria Swansons!
I haven't been able to find out who was responsible for creating the giant insects for Uniqlo's fashion advertisements announcing their new Uniqlo Undercover line by Jun Takahashi, but I am in love with them. Well, the insects, that is. Though the humans are nicely attired, they're not nearly as insect-inspired. I'd trade any of those fine threads for a chance to jam with Bass-Playing Bee! UPDATE: The set designer is Rhea Thierstein. There's a swell bio of her on Papermag about her and her obsession with insects!