Unexpected Beauty: Preserved Insects Featured in Unique Exhibit at Staten Island Museum


STATEN ISLAND, NY – As Brood X begins to decline, the best known insects for songs sung by most have started to emerge at the Staten Island Museum.

A distinctive new exhibit titled “Jennifer Angus: Magicicada” is slated to open on Friday July 16 and will run through May 22 next year at the museum, located on the grounds of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Livingston.

“Magicicada” is an immersive exhibit featuring exquisite ornamental designs and imaginative vignettes created by Angus using hundreds of preserved insects.

Drawing inspiration from the museum’s collection of cicadas, one of the largest in the world, the installation will feature more than two dozen species of cicadas, including the periodic cicadas Brood X, or Magicicadas, collected during the emergence. from 2021.

“The cicadas, and Magicicada in particular, have a deep connection and meaning to the Staten Island Museum,” said Colleen Davis, director of natural sciences at the Staten Island Museum. “Founder William T. Davis was the expert on cicadas during his lifetime and even coined the name Magicicada, capturing the wonder of the massive emergence and long disappearance of periodic cicadas. It is particularly poignant that this exhibition opens as we also return to the world after a time of darkness. I hope it will bring people a sense of joy and wonder after a time of deep loss. “

Using responsibly collected and preserved specimens, Angus creates site-specific installations with hundreds of insects pinned directly to the walls, creating patterns reminiscent of textiles or wallpaper. Up close, the installations turn out to be made up of actual insects, often species that are not traditionally considered beautiful.

Angus’ installations also include Victorian-style insect dioramas in antique furniture and bells. Her work motivates viewers to find beauty in unexpected places and to understand the importance of insects and other creatures in our world.

In preparation for this exhibit, Angus spent time in the museum’s extensive natural history collections to help shape selected objects and specimens from the Natural Science Collection, including storage of retired collections and taxidermy. historical.

During Brood X’s spring emergence, she traveled to Princeton, New Jersey with the museum’s director of natural sciences, Colleen Evans, and Joseph Yoon from Brooklyn Bugs to observe and collect cicadas for the show.

“I often say that the meat and potatoes in my facilities are cicadas,” Angus said. “They come big and small. Tropical species can often have colorful wings, which makes many people think they are moths. But unlike these insects, cicadas are hardy, resilient creatures that stand up to repeated use in my art installations.

“I couldn’t have been more thrilled when SIM contacted me, and learned of founder William T. Davis’s passion for cicadas, which were an under-documented species in his day,” Angus continued. . “I had the privilege of exploring the collection of SIM, one of the largest cicadas in the world, and I was inspired by these mysterious creatures who spend most of their lives underground but emerging, let’s tell – all of us for being there aloud calls I deeply appreciate the help the SIM staff have given in working with me to celebrate the cicada.

The program will begin on Saturday July 17th from 2pm to 3pm with “Cicada Talk” with Colleen Evans.

A virtual artist conference is scheduled for Sunday, September 19, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Registration is compulsory.


Angus is a professor in the Department of Design Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches in the Textile and Clothing Design program. She received her BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been exhibited around the world in galleries such as the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington DC and the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Staten Island Museum is located at 1000 Richmond Terr., Building A.

For more information, contact Rachel Somma, Communications Manager, at 718 483-7117 or by email at [email protected]

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