Dennos Museum Center
Traverse City, Michigan, USA
Dec 10 2006 - March 4 2007
 
 
 
 
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  The Victorian era, was a time of excitement. It was the age of travel, exploration, scientific discovery and the dawning of photography. Voracious collecting of all manner of plants and wildlife was extremely popular at that time. Perhaps, the elephant's foot umbrella stand is the quintessential object that defines the era, for it is exotic yet grotesque. For the insatiable Victorian collector, nothing was sacrosanct.
"A Terrible Beauty: Compulsion and Repulsion" explores the seduction of collecting and its darker connotations.
 
 
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Forman Art Gallery
Bishops University
Sherbrooke Quebec Canada
Sept 13 2006 - Nov 11th 2006
 
 
 
 
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Expression
Ste-Hyacinthe Quebec Canada
Sept 2 2006 - Oct 22 2006

 
 
 
 


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Internationaler Waldkunstpfad 2006
Darmstadt Germany
August 26 2006 - Sept 24 2006

 
 
 
 

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The Necklace is a site specific installation based upon ideas developed from the Brothers Grimm story The Queen Bee. In this story, the hero is set three tasks one of which consists of collecting 1,000 pearls which lie in the woods under moss and belong to a princess. The hero beginning the tedious and seemingly hopeless search is aided by the ant-king and five thousand ants. Before long, the little insects have collected all the pearls and put them in a heap. The Necklace alludes to the mystery and unknown lives of the thousands of creatures that reside in the forest mostly unseen or unnoticed by the human eye.

 

 
 
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Berkshire Museum
Pittsfield Mass USA
July 8, 2006 - Oct 29, 2006
 
 
 

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Children's literature is populated with wonderful six legged characters such as the insect companions in James and the Giant Peach or the fabulously glamorous cockroach in La Cuchuracha Martina. In fact, what is considered the first children's story in the English language which was not a moral tale or fable is The Butterflies Ball and The Grasshoppers Feast by William Roscoe dating from 1808. In the Victorian era, both adults and children were introduced to the natural world through a large number of educational publications in which insects were anthropomorphized so as to have greater appeal to the general reading public. Voracious collecting of all manner of plant and wildlife was extremely popular at that time. However in this millennium, an adult's worry of insects extends to serious diseases such as West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and malaria. In fact there is a certain hysteria, as insects culturally are a sign of dirtiness and disease.

 

 
 

My work is dependent upon the supposition that there is a cultural understanding of pattern. When viewers enter one of my installations, they are greeted with something they think they know, that is, a patterned wallpaper which could be in anyone's home. However upon closer examination one discovers that it is entirely made up of insects. A tension is created by the beauty one observes in the pattern and the apprehension we feel toward insects. Nearly 2,000 insects create the patterned walls of Study invoking a Victorian aesthetic of taste, clutter and exotica. The pattern is in fact inspired by the Victorian enthusiasm for flowers and what is known as "flower language". Used as a tool of communication flower imagery represented a complex, symbolic code of feelings and desires. For example, a Chrysanthemum was a sign of cheerfulness, a daisy of innocence and a daffodil of respect. In a similar fashion, I draw upon pattern to provide a framework for a narrative, a tale of travel and adventure.

 

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Upon the table in the room sits what appears to be a dollhouse, a child's toy, however take a look inside. The residents of this home are of a six legged variety. Live crickets abound in this domestic space for further study and contemplation. Their presence in such a grand home suggests eccentricities of an avid natural science collector but also alludes to that fact that in our own homes we are not divorced from insect life, if we care to harder look.

 

 

Most commonly I am asked whether the insects are real? Answer: Yes. Have I collected them myself? Answer: No, they come from insect specimen dealers throughout the world. As I have worked for the past eight years with insects, I have developed several contacts with reputable dealers. Rest assured that while I may allude to threatened species, none of the insects I use are endangered. Scientists and myself are of the view that if we encourage tribal peoples to continue collecting insects, thus providing a livelihood, then they will have less reason to cut down the rain forest which the insects inhabit. It is ecologically sound. They are a renewable resource.

 

 
 
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Installation/Innovation
Textile Art in the 21st Century
 
 

Museum of Craft and Design
San Francisco CA USA
Feb 17, 2006 - May 28, 2006
 
 
 
 

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Children's literature is populated with wonderful six legged characters such as the insect companions in James and the Giant Peach or the fabulously glamorous cockroach in La Cuchuracha Martina. In fact, what is considered the first children's story in the English language which was not a moral tale or fable is The Butterflies Ball and The Grasshoppers Feast by William Roscoe dating from 1808. In the Victorian era, both adults and children were introduced to the natural world through a large number of educational publications in which insects were anthropomorphized so as to have greater appeal to the general reading public. Voracious collecting of all manner of plant and wildlife was extremely popular at that time. However in this millennium, an adult's worry of insects extends to serious diseases such as West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and malaria. In fact there is a certain hysteria, as insects culturally are a sign of dirtiness and disease.

 

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My work is dependent upon the supposition that there is a cultural understanding of pattern. When viewers enter one of my installations, they are greeted with something they think they know, that is, a patterned wallpaper. However take a look. This wallpaper is embellished with insects. A tension is created by the beauty one observes in the pattern and the apprehension we feel toward insects. Nearly 1,400 insects accentuate the patterned walls of The Parlor invoking a Victorian aesthetic of taste, clutter and exotica. Yet insects play a further role in this work for the pink color of the botanical motifs is created from a dye extract of the cochineal insect. Pull open the drawer of the small curio cabinet and etched upon the backs of green iridescent insects is a rather silly poem by Ogden Nash.

 

 

The Termite

Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it, and found it good,
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.

 

 
 

Most commonly I am asked whether the insects are real? Answer: Yes. Have I collected them myself? Answer: No, they come from insect specimen dealers throughout the world. As I have worked for the past eight years with insects, I have developed several contacts with reputable dealers. Rest assured that while I may allude to threatened species, none of the insects I use are endangered. Insect dealers, scientists and myself are of the view that if we encourage tribal peoples to continue collecting insects, thus providing a livelihood, then they will have less reason to cut down the rain forest which the insects inhabit. It is ecologically sound. They are a renewable resource.

 

 
 
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Collaboration and Innovation in the print medium
 
 

Design Gallery
University of Wisconsin
Madison WI USA

March - April 2006

 
   
 
 

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London Print Studio
London England
February - April 2006
 
 
 
 
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A collaborative installation of monumentally sized prints between Jennifer Angus
and John Hitchcock

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A bird sneezes and the whole world jumps. The discovery of birds carrying the Avian flu virus is almost a daily occurrence. Scientists predict that it is only a matter of time before a global flu pandemic is upon us having morphed from the avian variety to a virus deadly to humans. Three years ago SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) hit simultaneously in southern China and Toronto, Canada. Doctors and scientists struggled to identify this new disease and discover its method of transmission. Several patients in Toronto were found to have simply stood in the same elevator in a Hong Kong hotel for one minute. In 2003, the first cow showing signs of BSE or Mad Cow disease was discovered in the USA. Suddenly the population became concerned about its food supply. The air we breathe and the food we eat - everything that is simply a part of living is under suspicion and none of us are immune to the dangers.

 

 
 

Diagnosis of a knot, a lump, an Itch and Scratch is a collaborative multi media print project between Jennifer Angus, (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Environment, Textiles and Design, School of Human Ecology) and John Hitchcock (University of Wisconsin-Madison Art Department, School of Education). Screenprinting layers of lacey patterns composed of viruses and diseased cells Angus and Hitchcock create grounds that are subtly beautiful and enticing. The patterns immobilize the deadly nature of Avian flu, BSE, cancer and HIV/AIDS referring to our complacency until the epidemic is in "our backyard". A popular children's rhyme dating from the Great 1918 Influenza pandemic goes:

 

 
 

I had a little bird,
Its name was Enza.
I opened the window,
And in-flu-enza.

 

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The rhyme suggests innocence lost not unlike "Ring around the Rosey" which refers to The Black Death plague of 1347. The use of pattern is strategic for it also alludes to the history and transmission of disease. Epidemics are cyclical in nature and the upcoming pandemic's potential for devastation is being compared to that of 1918's in which at least 25 million people died. Disease itself is often spread from person to person thus repeating the deadly chain of events again and again.

 

 
 

Angus's background is in fiber media and textile design while Hitchcock is engaged in the mediums of serigraphy and relief printing. From these different places in the art world Angus and Hitchcock share an interest in work that is motivated by socio-political themes such as identity, cross cultural interaction and connections between social class and disease. It is our intention that "Diagnosis of a Knot, a Lump, an Itch and Scratch" examines life in the 21st century.

 

 
 

Angus's recent work has been in the form of art installation in which thousands of real insects are pinned directly to the wall in continuous patterns, which mimic wallpaper. These works allude to the unseen world of dust mites, germs and bacteria, both friendly and not. Issues concerning the quality of life including home as a safe and comfortable place, AIDS and other devastating diseases arise. In addition, these works draw attention to attitudes toward nature, the land and in particular, the obsessive need to own and exploit.

 

 
 

Hitchcock's current art works relate to living on indigenous lands (United States Government lands) in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma next to Fort Sill, Lawton the largest field artillery military base in North America. The images he uses are a direct result of stories shared by family members and issues regarding growing up on those lands such as consumption, in particular the distribution by the USDA of commodity foods to indigenous lands, welfare programs, and to Third World countries. From a technical perspective both Angus and Hitchcock utilize screenprinting and digital imaging in their teaching and personal work.

 

 
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Textile Museum of Canada
Toronto Canada
Nov 26, 2005 - May 14, 2006
 
 
 
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Prologue

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On the first day of April, an expedition party set out to capture the elusive "Goliathus Hercules" and return with a live specimen. It was a creature of legend, a variety of insect described as being the length of a man's foot with protruding shiny black horns tipped with gold and said to have inspired ancient Japanese Samurai armour. The intrepid explorers endured intense physical and mental hardships during the three month expedition. The monsoon rains had started. Dampness compounded with sweltering heat, the infernal buzz of mosquitoes and blood sucking leeches made progress slow, and comfort was at a minimum. The severe injury of one of the party nearly caused the quest to be forsaken, yet the expedition leader remained focused and resolute. They were rewarded for their efforts when at last Goliathus Hercules was captured on the tenth day of June.

 

 
 

The explorers returned to tremendous fanfare and acclaim from the Geographic Society. Goliathus Hercules was displayed in the great exposition and all that saw him marvelled. Sadly despite the long life attributed to the beast, the available food and cooler temperatures did not agree with him and he expired after just three months in captivity. Our intrepid expedition leader had reached the pinnacle of a career and retired to become an eccentric recluse rarely venturing out of doors.

 

 

A Terrible Beauty

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Welcome to the home of my eccentric explorer and collector! A Terrible Beauty is the next chapter of a story that began with Goliathus Hercules as was presented at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 2004. In that space, a world's fair or exposition type atmosphere was created for the display of Goliathus Hercules. In all of my installations, viewers initially see a pattern upon the wall. However closer examination reveals that they are composed of insects. Understandably ideas about collecting and collections arise. You are now invited to enter the living space of an extraordinary adventurer and collector.

 

 

The Victorian era was a time of excitement. It was the age of travel, exploration, scientific discovery and the dawning of photography. Both adults and children were introduced to the natural world through a large number of educational publications in which various species of wildlife from insects to elephants were anthropomorphized so as to have greater appeal to the general reading public. Voracious collecting of all manner of plant and wildlife was extremely popular at that time. In my mind, the elephant's foot umbrella stand is the quintessential object that defines the era, for it is exotic yet grotesque. For the insatiable Victorian collector nothing was sacrosanct. In the heyday of collecting, the prestige of a large collection and the finest and most unusual specimens was enormous. While men of science worked in the field collecting, the wealthy sponsored expeditions and were great accumulators.

 

 
 

Yet a strange contradiction existed, for as enthusiastic as the public was about Sir Richard Burton's discovery of the source of Nile and other exotic exploits, they were also captivated by the idea of and belief in fairies. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories and surely a master of logic, was a proponent of the existence of fairies. The publishing of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species in 1848 was embraced by Victorian anthropologists, for they interpreted it as an explanation of fairies as a separate and savage race

 

 
 

A Terrible Beauty embraces a world of science and fantasy. Three of the rooms in this exhibition are inspired by travel destinations of significance during the Victorian era. In particular, textiles from these regions have inspired the patterns which adorn the walls. Japan only opened to the West in the 1850's. Its art and culture were highly regarded by the British, and Japonisme refers to the influence this country had upon artists, designers and architects as the Art Nouveau style developed. Aubrey Beardsley is perhaps the best known of artists whose work was influenced by Japanese block prints.

 

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The British populace had long been intrigued by ancient Egypt and what was broadly known as the Orient. Many writers and artists of the Victorian era travelled to Cairo's slave market, documenting it in various works. In 1860, the Suez Canal opened to great ceremony and in particular inspired a craze for Egyptian inspired jewellery. The scarab beetle, an ancient symbol of rebirth and afterlife, was a popular motif. When Howard Carter discovered King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922, another Egyptian revival period was set off.

 

 
 

India was the "jewel in the crown" of the British empire. The East India Company developed trade, and military officers and associated personnel were posted there bringing along their families including children. An indelible impression was made upon both countries as Indian government and bureaucracy developed along British models and Indian products, particularly tea and textiles gained popularity in Britain. British writer Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865. For many, his writings glorified British rule and exoticized India, although he is perhaps best known for his children's story "The Jungle Book".

 

 
 

Children's literature was in fact born in the Victorian period, for at this time the notion of childhood as a special and prized time was born. Until then, children were considered small persons who as soon as they were old enough, were given chores and put to labour. It was only the very wealthy who went to school or had tutors. Thus beginning in the 1830's, literature expressly written for children produced some of the greatest children's books and fairy tales including Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland. The Butterflies Ball and The Grasshoppers Feast by William Roscoe is considered the first story ever written for children in the English language which was not a moral tale or fable. The connection to childhood and fantasy is an important component of A Terrible Beauty. Perhaps you have walked on a warm summer evening and seen fireflies dancing in the sky. There is something magical about the sight, and one wishes one could be part of the festivities and the mystery. Scattered throughout the exhibition are Victorian era poems with insect themes engraved upon beetles and placed in curio boxes.

 

 

Upon one wall of the final room, spelled out in beetles, is an excerpt from Alice Through the Looking Glass in which Alice has a very nonsensical discussion with a gnat. This space is not inspired by place, but by the Victorian enthusiasm for flowers and what is known as "flower language". Victorians used flowers as a complex, symbolic code to convey their feelings. For example, a Chrysanthemum was a sign of cheerfulness, a daisy of innocence and a daffodil of respect. In a similar fashion, I draw upon pattern, for my work is dependent upon the supposition that there is a cultural understanding of pattern. That understanding provides the framework for a narrative. It is pattern that tells the tale of travel, adventure and perhaps magic!

 

 
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