Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Response to Jennifer Angus - Michael Hubbard


Last Friday, visiting artist Jennifer Angus gave a talk on her latest addition to the Wriston Galleries: a room walled with insects patterned in circular manners. For Angus, patterning is a common technique of hers to tackle where, in her mind, there is no such thing as too much patterning. While I am not entirely sure if working with insects is her primary medium, Angus has made it very clear that she likes using them, in hopes challenging people fear of insects. Angus made the argument that while we do not enjoy the presence of insects, we do rather enjoy patterns and looking at them, thus giving her foray into artfully confronting our phobia of things that are small and crawl. Angus rationalizes that by creating patterns with the multitude of insects she purchased from various bug collectors she is somehow creating a venue between what is familiar to us and the sudden realization that what we consider familiar is not, seeing a visualizing appealing pattern, only to then quickly realize it is made up entirely of generally large, exotic insects. Through this passive confrontation, Angus hopes to bring awareness to the natural beauty and general ecological importance of many insects, despite their alien appearance and tendency to be associated with hideousness, disease, and death. After reviewing Angus’ addition to the gallery, I am hard-pressed to believe that she would be confronting anybody here at Lawrence University with the presumed fear of insects primarily because of her choice of insects and the patterns she creates with them. They are harmless and herbivorous flying insects, whether they are beetles or moths, and they do not look frightening in the least. Maybe it is because I am accustomed to seeing many insects of different shapes and sizes, but seeing the species she has gotten her hands, it is a bit of a shame for such exotic and unfamiliar insects to be displayed in such a manufactured and excessive manner. Knowing the techniques used to capture and collect insects, it is laughable for me to try to appreciate whatever ecological message Jennifer Angus is trying to get across about preserving insects when she is clearly flaunting them trophy like in the manner she has presented them, even they were not killed and were collected dead from the start. It is certainly pretty to look at, but boy, does it feel like a waste of beautiful insects.

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