Artist Jennifer Angus Covers the Smithsonian’s Walls With Bugs

It's an experiment in decorative taxidermy.

Jennifer Angus, In The Midnight Garden (2015). Image: Courtesy Jennifer Angus.
Jennifer Angus, In The Midnight Garden (2015). Image: Courtesy The Renwick .Wonder

Jennifer Angus, In The Midnight Garden (2015).
Image: Courtesy of Jennifer Angus.

At first glance, artist Jennifer Angus‘s installation at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery looks like ornate wallpaper, with raised embellishments. But upon closer inspection, we see that Angus’s In The Midnight Garden is an experiment in decorative taxidermy.

To celebrate its reopening on November 10, the Renwick Gallery brings together nine contemporary artists working within craft, materiality, and technology for its exhibition, titled, WONDER. Each artist has created a site-specific installation that transforms the interior spaces of the gallery into immersive art experiences.

For her installation, Angus used roughly 5,000 insects to create the intricate patterns on the gallery walls. Many of the bugs hail from tropical locales in Southeast Asia, South America, and Sub-Saharan Africa, and were chosen for their brightly colored exteriors. Angus created the background hue from cochineal dye, a natural colorant made from insects.

Jennifer Angus, In The Midnight Garden (2015). Image: Courtesy Jennifer Angus.

Jennifer Angus, In The Midnight Garden (2015).
Image: Courtesy Jennifer Angus.

Over the phone to artnet News, Angus explained that she recycles her insects in her various exhibitions. Although most of the insects involved reproduce plentifully, she uses farmed specimens whenever possible.

The artist wants to highlight the lowly insects’ plights through her work. Given the widespread loss of honey bees and other species recently, Angus cautions that  “without insects, we wouldn’t even be here.” The skull symbolizes the doomsday clock, reminding viewers that the time to act on the environment is now.

See more images from Angus’s installation below.

Jennifer Angus, In The Midnight Garden (2015). Image: Courtesy Jennifer Angus.

Jennifer Angus, In The Midnight Garden (2015).
Image: Courtesy Jennifer Angus.

Jennifer Angus. In The Midnight Garden (2015). Image: Courtesy Jennifer Angus.

Jennifer Angus. In The Midnight Garden (2015).
Image: Courtesy Jennifer Angus.

Jennifer Angus, In The Midnight Garden (2015). Image: Courtesy Jennifer Angus.

Jennifer Angus, In The Midnight Garden (2015).
Image: Courtesy Jennifer Angus.


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