BUZZ: Insects As Art
Insects may be pests, but they are important not only for our environment, but also great inspirations for artistic expressions.
A few months ago there was an exhibit at Ottawa’s Gallery 101 called BUZZ: Getting to Know Other Animals, curated by Laura Margita, which explored insects as both specimen and art, featuring the works of Kimberly Edgar, Deborah Margo, Bioni Samp, and Amy Swartz, with borrowed specimens from the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids, and Nematodes (CNC).
Thorough research and creative expression came together, juxtaposing scientific names and species groups with artistic titles and aesthetical organization.
Kimberly Edgar’s work was used to tell a story through her drawings, which as she stated “forces her to analyze them aesthetically, so that she is no longer thinking about them fearfully, but learning to appreciate them as beautiful and interesting; and that drawing them allows her to cross that fine line between revulsion and fascination”.
The work of Deborah Margo created a garden in the gallery space as a form of experiment, where the work “[stimulated] bodies and minds by combining creative experimentation, ecological sustainability, and nourishment for two specific animal species: bees and cultural workers”. Working specifically with those two entities in mind created a piece which formed a dialogue between social and ecological systems.
Bioni Samp performed at the Canadian Museum of Nature, where he exhibited his DJ-skills combining music and bee frequencies, to raise awareness on the plight of bees.
Amy Swartz created intricate installations, similar to the display cases on loan from the CNC, which “[explored] the idea of obsession — not only in the practice of art, but also in humanity’s perceived control over nature, life, and death”. Juxtaposing her specimens with the ones from the CNC was deliberate, to make one “consider how the gaze of the scientist and the gaze of the artist may differ in regards to the animals they are studying”.
In general, the exhibit was not about getting over phobias of ‘creepy’ insects or merely admiring their natural patterns and colours, but about remembering the importance of even the smallest of organisms to our environment. It was a wake-up call to protect Canada’s biodiversity, celebrating the beauty and importance of these little creatures.