Wisconsin-based installation artist and educator Jennifer Angus transports visitors to a state of wonder in her exhibition All Creatures Great and Small at CAFAM. What appears to be gorgeous wallpaper is, in reality, approximately 3,500 brightly colored insects pinned directly to the wall in kaleidoscopic patterns.
“We don’t have very many ‘Wow!’ moments anymore in this age of Internet. We’ve become a bit jaded,” says Angus, “I am trying to capture in my work the magic we experience as children. I would like people to discover it once again and for a moment just stand there and say ‘Wow!’”
Inspired by the tribal dress of the Karen tribe in Thailand’s Golden Triangle—a region bordered by China, Laos and Myanmar—Angus combined her passion for pattern and textiles with a newfound fascination for the often overlooked (even maligned) insect. Using no endangered species, Angus creates her distinctive patterns without utilizing dyes or destroying natural resources.
Naturally electric blue, emerald green, pink, purple and red insects coalesce on the walls to create an immersive Victorian-era room that recalls an age of excitement, exploration and scientific discovery. Complementary small-scale dollhouses covered in beeswax are home to anthropomorphized insects that provoke viewers to revisit their own relationship with the eco-system.
For Angus, pattern is associated more with meaning than decoration. Her works call to mind themes of death, cultural association and ideas about collection. “ Although insects are common all over the world, insect collectors share the same passion, rigor and attention to display as many art collectors,” says director Suzanne Isken, “You will find that Angus’ work reflects the world’s infinite cache of unexpected beauty and diversity, a view that we at the Craft and Folk Art Museum hope to share with Los Angeles.”
About Jennifer Angus
Jennifer Angus is an artist, educator, writer and curator living in Madison, Wisconsin. In September 2001, she joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin - Madison where she is an Associate Professor of Textile Design. Jennifer received her education at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (B.F.A. 1984) and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (M.F.A. 1991). She has exhibited her work internationally including Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and Spain. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and Wisconsin Arts Board grants. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison she has received annual grants from the Graduate School as well a Vilas Associate Award, the Emily Mead Baldwin-Bascom Professorship in the Creative Arts and most recently a Romnes Fellowship. Three of her works are in the permanent collection of the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. She maintains a comprehensive web site of her work www.jenniferangus.com.