One of the most captivating installations this spring takes place not at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston or the Blaffer Art Museum, but at Esperson Gallery at GreenStreet. This veritable time machine will transport you back to the Victorian age, when the natural world possessed real magic and collectors were obsessed with acquiring rare and beautiful insect specimens from the corners of the (mostly British) empire to display under bell jars.
For the Esperson show (March 24 through June 24), University of Wisconsin professor of design studies Jennifer Angus creates a unique take on bug mania, with insects literally taking over the walls and filling elaborate etymological dioramas. The exhibition incorporates “cicadas, grasshoppers, katydids, beetles, walking sticks, moving leaf…”
Angus shares via email. “My plan is to show a little bit of all the things I do, from installation to printmaking to fanciful narrative-type dioramas. I would be inclined to call this show a broad survey of my work. I’ve created some brand new insect dioramas under bell jars. Far from a traditional museum diorama, the insects in my work live in otherworldly environments where anything is possible. The mysterious cicada ladies who are part cicada, part grasshopper and wear dresses made of beeswax rule these places. Look out for some new colorful praying mantis.”
Angus’s solo in Houston coincides with her inclusion in a prestigious nine-artist group show at the Smithsonian, “Wonder,” which spills throughout two floors of the newly renovated Renwick Gallery; there, her wallpaper featuring insect specimens collected from around the world steals the show from talents such as Maya Lin and Leo Villareal (through May 7).
“Jennifer Angus: Silver Wings and Golden Tails” at Esperson Gallery at GreenStreet, March 24 through June 24.