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Arts

Review: Beautiful bugs

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 2, 2009 - The second installation at Craft Alliance's new Grand Center location is "Locusts & Honey: Jennifer Angus," an exhibition that shows off the storefront gallery to stunning effect and ought to serve as a model for future shows at the site.

"Locusts & Honey" consists of abstract designs made up of enormous, winged insects pinned directly to the gallery's walls. At first glance it's easy to mistake this "wallpaper" for something out of the Victorian era; William Morris, for instance, made lovely use of organic printed motifs.

But Morris never dreamed of anything remotely as dazzling and iridescent as Angus' exotic compositions. (These aren't your run-of-the-mill Midwestern bugs, but gigantic, brilliantly colored species from Asia that Angus acquires from legitimate dealers working legally in the trade.)

In addition, Angus has furnished the gallery with jars of luscious-looking honey in all hues, and cases of beetles with words engraved onto their wings. The entire installation -- which is based on the legendary diet of locusts and honey consumed by John the Baptist -- is a contemporary "wunderkammer" of marvels and mystery.

Angus, a professor of textile design at the University of Wisconsin, has created an exhibition that truly puts this Grand Center gallery on the map.

Ivy Cooper is an artist and professor of art history at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

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