Exhibit celebrates world of insects
If bugs freak you out, you should commit yourself to seeing the upcoming exhibit at The Confluence: Art in Twisp, which opens this Saturday (April 22).
“Don’t Kill the Buzz: a Celebration of Insects” aims to “import a fresh appreciation for insects, a group of sentient beings who comprise over 90% of animal life on this planet and play indispensable roles in every ecosystem on this vibrant blue orb,” a Confluence press release said.
Exhibit curator Penelope Varn is emphatic about this point. “People tend to look at bugs as worthless little things to be killed and swept away. But the insect kingdom is so underappreciated,” she said. “If we kill off the insects, we’re dead. They’re the canary in the coal mine.”
It’s fitting, then, that “Buzz” opens on Earth Day 2023. Even if you don’t appreciate the essential planetary role insects play as pollinators and decomposers of organic matter, Varn said, “you can still appreciate the unconventional striking beauty of these creatures.”
Varn hopes that viewers of the show will “leave the gallery with a passion for our tiny stewards of the natural world, holding them in newfound reverence for their inherent value and unorthodox beauty.”
Originally, “Buzz” was a show conceived by artist and former Confluence Executive Director Salyna Gracie titled “Buzz: Spirits of the Material World.” But when Varn was tapped to curate the show, she had “a very cohesive vision of the exhibit” that didn’t quite sync with the existing show title. “So it morphed,” Varn said, into celebrating insects as sentient beings in the biological sphere.
The work submitted to the show is “simply gorgeous, of super high quality,” Varn said. The cover piece was created by Michelle Anderst, who is new to showing at Confluence. Varn also pulled in perennially popular local and regional artists Vern White, Joanne Marracci, Salyna Gracie, Dan Brown, Jessica da Costa, and Mary Appfel, among others.
The show is enhanced by the work of other artists such as Kalninda Kunis’s acrylic-on-board insects, Justin Gibbons’s black and white pieces, Pam Stokes’ exquisite watercolors, Fred Birchman’s beautiful mixed media, Victoria Weber’s charcoal boards, and Nova Scotian artist Joanne Bohannan’s wall sculptures of bees made from found objects like kitchen utensils and antique wooden shoe forms.
“There’s a lot of fine workmanship in these pieces,” Varn said.
Varn called out in particular Winthrop residents’ Tom Forker and Trevin Leon’s photographs of insects. “The sentience of these creatures really comes through in these photographs,” she said. “They invite you to look at things from a different angle.”
Insects, Varn said, are “truly partners in our habitat.” Really, she said, “humans are of minor importance compared to the insects.”
‘Soundings’ opens also
‘Concurrently, “Soundings,” a solo show by Perri Howard, will hang in The Confluence’s Community Gallery. “Soundings” features new visual works from Howard’s Frequencies series. “These mixed media paintings investigate the passage of light, sound, and current through extreme environments on the front lines of climate change,” according to a press release from Confluence. The paintings are “material traces of the artist’s own experience, listening to the landscape.”
The Confluence will host an opening for “Buzz” and Howard’s exhibit on Saturday from 5-7 p.m. The opening and the exhibits, available through Saturday, June 3, are free to the public. The Confluence is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. For more information visit www.confluencegallery.org or call (509) 997-2787.