Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Insects inspire art in collaborative exhibit

Preserved insects and minerals are now on display in the Thomas Tredway Library. Photo provided by Connie Ghinazzi.
Preserved insects and minerals are now on display in the Thomas Tredway Library. Photo provided by Connie Ghinazzi.

Scientists and artists have collaborated to create an interactive teaching collection. Insects and art inspired by them are now on display in the Thomas Tredway Library.
Five cases inside the library contain insects collected by Ingemar Larsen, Ph.D., a retired Augustana biology professor. Also on display are art pieces inspired by the bugs. The work was provided by students, faculty and scientific illustrators.
A family night showcasing the exhibit, on Sept. 17, will provide students, faculty and parents an opportunity to learn about insects through art and specimen collected from around the world. Participants will also be allowed to create their own art inspired by the exhibit.
“This exhibit gives you a chance to see some incredibly beautiful insects that are found locally that may go unnoticed on a daily basis just because they are blending into your normal environment,” said Connie Ghinazzi, a research librarian and assistant professor at Augustana College.
Ghinazzi said this exhibit gives everyone a chance to get a closer look at the world around us.
The displays are unique because they combine science and art, two fields which are typically viewed as opposites, according to Ghinazzi.
“One of our goals with Library exhibits is to collaborate with as many different groups as possible,” Ghinazzi said. “That is something that has been very exciting about this exhibit. There are many different groups among many different departments contributing their work.”
Displays include captured beetles, praying mantises, butterflies and moths, cicadas and dragonflies. Most of the samples were collected between 35 and 40 years ago.
“It’s great to get these samples out of the classroom and out of the lab and to have them be part of this exhibit so that more people can see them and learn from them,” Ghinazzi said.
Minerals were also borrowed from the Augustana Fryxell Geology Museum to be paired with insects. Some of the minerals reflect similar patterns and colors to those of the bugs, adding another aspect to the aesthetic appeal.
Nicole McAleese, freshman, said the exhibit is different from most exhibits featured at the library.
“When I think of bugs, I think of something I normally run from,” McAleese said. “However, students are still intrigued by the idea that dirt-living, creepy crawlers could be considered art.”
At the family night, beginning at 7 p.m., Barrett Klein, Ph.D., an artist and entomologist who teaches at University of Wisconsin, will educate the visitors of the exhibit on the idea of insects as inspiration for art. He decided to focus his career on both the beauty and science of bugs after being faced with the dilemma of picking one over the other.
Augustana students who are currently studying entomology, the study of bugs, will be on hand to answer questions.
“It’s interesting because part of seeking a liberal education is stepping outside of your comfort zone when it comes to learning,” said Anna Basten, freshman. “Bugs being used as art is very different, but it’s also very interesting.”
The exhibit is currently open and will run through Nov. 6.

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Insects inspire art in collaborative exhibit