Thursday, April 3, 2008

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman (or, "Why I Make Art With Bugs")

Throughout history, people have been fascinated by insects. This fascination has manifested itself in the full range of responses from awe to revulsion. Insects have been gods, heraldic symbols, and jewels, as well as the inspiration behind our aliens, our phobias, and our horror film industry. They have been the embodiment of the ideals we work to mimic, and the ultimate symbol of the “other.” They have been both at once, in the form of many comic-book super-heroes. A topic so rich in history – both anthropological and psychological- with the power to evoke such a vast range of strong emotions seems like the perfect point of reflection for art. As well as being topically fascinating, insects are aesthetically beautiful, intricate forms. Their body structures are diverse and delicate, possessing a strange beauty I try to share through my work.

I am additionally intrigued by the human tendency- and my own - to anthropomorphize . As we know no other way of existing than that which we have experienced- namely, the experience of a person- it is no surprise that in order to make sense of the behaviors of other beings we attribute to them (if only subconsciously) the cognitive and philosophical capabilities that we ourselves possess.

If the insect has a human face, does it have an intellect like ours? It looks like us, so can it also think and feel in the ways that we do? Or is it a mask of us, with nothing behind it but a series of instinctual reactions and biological imperatives. And, when it comes down to it, which of these would be more disturbing to our sensibilities- an “animal” who is a person, or a hollow copy of humanity, lacking in personhood?

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