Artist & UW-Madison professor bugs out with her art

By Ryan Ward | September 13, 2022


Jennifer Angus is an artist and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But instead of using a brush or canvas to display her art. Angus incorporates items that are a little livelier.

“The very first installation I did with was in a downtown Toronto storefront gallery,” Angus said, “And people walked in and walked up to the wall. And then literally I watched them take a step back as they realized that that pattern, that the wallpaper is made of insects.”

Angus uses dried and petrified insects to create Victorian-style art installations. She’s had exhibits across the United States and Canada. In total, Angus believes she’s used close to 20,000 insects throughout her art displays. Her favorite insect to work with is cicadas.

“I often say that cicadas are the meat and potatoes of my exhibitions because they are so hardy,” Angus said, “And they’re also quite large. The biggest one has an eight-inch wingspan.

The theme and idea behind her art are to bring awareness to environmental factors are many insects are facing around the globe.

“Insects like many, uh, animals these days are threatened by urban and suburban sprawl and by climate change,” said Angus, “And what is absolutely heartbreaking is to hear the stories of the Amazon rainforest being cut down, the very lungs of our planet.”

Angus first started using insects due to the variety in color and shape. It allowed her to really experiment with what could be in our everyday world. The more she used them the more she came to respect them.

“I first came to insects because of their beauty, but as I continue to work with insects I’m just so impressed with them,” said Angus, “I’ve really felt like one of the things I want to do is create a space in which people can escape. And I really tried hard to make these spaces that are somewhat magical.”

Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward is a producer for the “Wisconsin Life” project and can rest easy after he finally found the perfect jar of homemade dill pickles at the farmer’s market in Madison. … just like his Grandma Shirley use to make!

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