Alive, Adorned

I’ve always loved at looking at things close up, being immersed in them, examining them, getting intimately close. I love touch. I love the cool feel of glass on skin.  But, this piece pushes me beyond my comfort level.  Certain bugs I enjoy holding, but none of the ones in this piece make me comfortable. I’ve designed the tubes to securely house the bugs, but the fragility of the glass is tantalizing, tempting. I created a glass environment that puts me closer to a different world and forces me to reckon with any bug anxiety.

There’s something medical about working with glass as a medium – the clank when the glass hits itself, the precise, surgery-like tools, the anxiety of the glass shattering. I’ve incorporated a round bottom flask as a vessel in the baby tarantula headpiece because of its reference to something toxic, or a special potion.

Having the bugs close to the skin in partially occluded spaces on the body is critical; the emotions that emerge from seeing things in your peripheral vision can be powerful and alarming. It’s fascinating that you can comfortably wear the glass apparel when it is empty, but the moment something is in there, even though it doesn’t touch your skin and the bugs do nothing to change the shape, you suddenly can’t handle the experience. Similar to a balance beam, it’s easy to walk a straight line on the ground, but the moment you are four feet in the air you become extremely wobbly. Knowledge and fear of consequences can be physically crippling.

It amazes me how much the fear of bugs is nurtured. I’m sad that I’ve grown more afraid of bugs over the years and I wonder when it happened, and if it’s reversible. I’m also fascinated by phantom bugs – the ones you feel crawling on your neck hours after you’ve discovered one on you. The fact that the body creates these sensations and is suddenly so alert and sensitized to anything that feels like a bug is incredible and compelling. Can we sensitize ourselves to other things in a similar fashion?

Personal Statement, 2009

Live pink-toed tarantulas, Live king worms, Live Hissing Cockroaches
Pyrex glass tubing, round bottom flask, rubber stopper, fabric.  Glass tubing cut, holes drilled, sewn head attachment. Glass tubing bent in segments over propane, joined, annealed, assistance from R & D Glass, Berkeley, CA.
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