March 19, 2010

Bugging Out: Racine Art Museum coordinates insect invasion

The Racine Art Museum is ready to bug out this summer with a wild new exhibit that's all about insects.

"All the Buzz: Insects Invade RAM" is a collection of works by artists such as Catherine Chalmers, who poses dead cockroaches in miniature home settings. You can see her work here.

Beyond providing fascination through the bizarre, Chalmers (who was featured on the cover of Art News) offers interesting insights into the relationship between humans and animals, in this case, an insect most of us would rather never encounter. Here's a comments from Chalmers in Aperture magazine:
With American Cockroach, I am interested not so much in troublesome behavior as in an animal humans find problematic. The roach, and the disgust we feel for it, make for a rich conduit to the psychological landscape that inculcates our complex and often violent relationship with the animal world. I can think of few species that are as thoroughly loathed as the cockroach. But interestingly enough, although they carry this heavy burden of our hostility, they don’t do very much in terms of behavior. They don’t eat in a dramatic way, and they certainly don’t have the wild sex life of, say, the praying mantis. They don’t sting, bite, or carry the dangerous pathogens that flies, mice, and mosquitoes regularly do. Having a cockroach in your kitchen is not like having a venomous snake living in the house. There’s nothing about the animal that is life-threatening. The dichotomy of the roach being a loaded subject, yet in habit, a fairly blank canvas, allowed me to bring more to this work.
It's in this spirit RAM is bringing in Chalmers along with Jennifer Angus' exhibit "Patterns of Insect Life" and JoAnna Poehlman's exhibit, "Insectopedia." RAM will also pull insect-related pieces from its personal collection. All together, bugs will dominate the museum this summer.

Here's RAM's description of the event
This summer, the Racine Art Museum (RAM) will be invaded by insects – as depicted by contemporary artists. RAM announces an exciting array of exhibitions and programming that feature these crawling, flying, hovering, and often times, beautiful creatures at both museum locations.
For many individuals, insects create a sense of uneasiness, and may be seen as a predictor of uncleanliness and disease. However, RAM showcases the works of three women artists that challenge the viewer to wonder why these creatures are so maligned. To further engage audiences, the museum will also host a variety of bug-related activities and family-friendly events in partnership with other cultural institutions, such as: the Racine Public Library, the Racine Zoo, the Racine Heritage Museum, the Racine Arts Council and the Milwaukee Public Museum.
In addition to the exhibits, RAM has a series of interesting events from April to September to promote "insect art" at the museum. One event in the planning stages is a partnership with Real Racine to hold a kids race on Main Street in Downtown Racine on the First Friday in July. Kids would be invited to dress up as their favorite bug and run a few blocks down Main Street.

Adam Smith, marketing director for Real Racine, came up with the idea. He's scheduled to meet with the City Council's Public Works Committee later this month to discuss closing the street for the event.

Other upcoming bug-related events include a kids camp during Racine Unified's Spring Break in April. Here's the details:
Bug Off!
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, April 6 - 8
9:00 am – 4:00 pm
For ages 7–13
Camp is coming back! Is it creepy or crawlie, squishy or squirmy, wiggly or jiggly, buzzy or busy ...what is buggin’ you? The endless possibilities of the Class Insecta will be put to test and examined under the microscope of art! Explore the beauty of butterflies, the scariness of spiders, the peacefulness of praying mantis and more. Inspect bugs through art. Disect all their details and create creepy creatures to be on display at RAM during the BUG exhibitions Catherine Chalmers: American Cockroach, Jennifer Angus and The Insectopedia of Joanna Poehlmann.
Dress to get messy and bring a lunch each day!
$80 Members $100.00 Non-Members
Call 262.636.9177 to register. This camp is held at RAM's Wustum Museum located at 2519 Northwestern Avenue, Racine.

Poelmann will offer a class on Saturday, June 5 to teach people how to create "bug books." Here's the details:

Bug Books!
1 Day Saturday June 5, 2010
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Learn from master artist JoAnna Poehlmann to create your own book, all about insects. Join JoAnna for a day of exploration and play as she shares her vast knowledge of nature, her technical skills as an illustrator and her talents as a bookmaker. JoAnna’s long time love of nature and art will inspire you to immerse yourself in the beauty of bugs. Work in your favorite media and bring items to personalize your book. A supply list will be sent. Please bring a lunch.

RAM and the Real

Adam Smith, marketing director

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