Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Animals, Insects & Art (oh my!)

I love natural history ... animals, shells, bones, feathers, plants, etc.  I love the Tesla/Industrial/Steampunk idea, when not too heavy handed ... things that are industrial, technological and the fantastical ... the epic quality that you find in sci fi.  When you blend both natural history and steampunk, you leave me very happy.  Two things that shouldn't go together, in fact, blend together rather well.

Mike Libby caught my eye a few years ago ( and I've been following him ever since.  The simple act of finding a dead beetle and toying with old watch parts has led to the most beautiful collection of work.  The mechanical parts truly seem to power the creatures ... and Libby has found a way to make "bugs" beautiful again.

Then there is Jessica Joslin (  Jessica sets the imagination on fire with her creations.  Blending actual skulls and skeletons with those she makes herself (you can never tell the difference) she builds wild menageries of brass/mixed metal and bone.  I had the pleasure of seeing her work in person recently, and I fully expected one of her cats to slink across the room.  There is this gorgeous and magical quality to everything she creates ... instead of macabre, you get the sense that these creatures are about to spring to life and let you in to a world you imagined as a child.  Tim Burton should be using them in his films.  Simply beautiful.

Libby is most focused on the internal--his clock parts hint at the delicate systems powering small beetle bodies.  There is something there reminding you that our own parts are just that delicate--all creatures are perfect machines inside.  Joslin utilizes the industrial elements in a way which mirrors natural movements and aesthetics... brass feathers may not allow you to fly, but they sure are beautiful.  Joslin & Libby are examples of how you can harness nature itself when creating ... and they successfully remind the viewer how splendidly beautiful animal and insect life really is.

Nature IS art.  Taxidermy isn't macabre ... when handled correctly it's a celebration of the greatest art there is ... nature itself.

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