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Artistic entomological art on display at UNG

"Formicidae" and "The Moth Project" shows off the artistic beauty of bugs

POSTED: March 20, 2014 1:00 a.m.

As a special addition to the “Formicidae” entomological art exhibit, which is on display at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus, the school will showcase the public art installation “The Moth Project” on Tuesday, March 25.

The project was designed by artist-activists Jeff Schmuki, a ceramics professor at Georgia Southern University, and Wendy DesChene, an art professor at Auburn University. The installation is designed to attract moths, as well as viewers, to a series of portable nighttime garden machines to underscore the importance of pollinating insects and the decline of the honeybee, one of the most important pollinators.

“We are very interested in issues that deal with food and how it is produced today, because many people are unaware of the changes that are being made without them being a part of it,” Schmuki said. “Our bees are dying and we don’t know why.

“We decided to go to second-shift pollinators. The moth is an insect that usually people know little about.”

Since gardens are off the electric grid, small solar panels charge batteries during the day for the exhibit. Then timers and power inverters turn on the lights at night to attract moths.

The primary visual aspects of the installation are a projector, which features videos of moth wing patterns, and a black-light tent where viewers can watch the insects.

“(The installation) does attract moths, but at the same time we need to attract people,” Schmuki said. “They see these patterns and they come up and learn through entering a discussion.”

“The Moth Project” combines science, art, different technologies and performance to engage viewers. Schmuki and DesChene wear lab coats and spark conversations with viewers on “backyard naturalism.”

Schmuki and DesChene want to prove there is a place for art in the everyday. By working outside of conventional methods such as inside a gallery filled with paintings, they hope to promote discussion and new ideas without preconceived notions.

“We want to take art to the people,” DesChene said. “When they are in their normal space of the world, they don’t have their art hat on.

“I think sometimes the interactions are more honest and impactful because they are not filtered through their art vision.”

The “Formicidae” exhibit also features work from other artists who utilize insect imagery. Paintings of butterfly wing patterns, glasswork containing insect remains, reduced woodcut prints of bugs and photographs of insects are part of the display.

“The Moth Project” will be on display Tuesday at UNG’s Gainesville campus at 3820 Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood and the “Formicidae” will be on display through Wednesday in the school’s Roy C. Moore Art Gallery.

A closing reception for the exhibit and a presentation by Schmuki and DesChene will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the university’s Continuing Education/Performing Arts Building.

For more information, call 678-717-3707.


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