Jo Whaley’s series ‘The Theater of Insects’ – still lifes as theatrical scenes where butterflies and other insects are put on a fabricated imaginary background, to create visual dialogue about the deterioration and the imperfection following to the quintessential Japanese design aesthetic of wabi-sabi. Inspired by the old dioramas in natural history museums these images through the lie tell the truth of the transient nature of earthly things and the human inability to control the process.
“There is a flicker of movement caught by the corner of my eye. I pause long enough from one of those questionably imperative tasks of the day, to ponder a minuscule, seemingly insignificant insect. If one carefully looks at the overlooked, a whole world presents itself. The appearances of insects range from those of menacing aliens to those of creatures of ornamental beauty. Their ingenious structures and designs are unique visual qualities that inspire awe. As an artist I find great aesthetic lessons in their strategies of mimicry, camouflage, and metamorphosis. Delightfully distracted, I am caught in the butterfly net of their visual forms and held absolutely mesmerized with wonder.
Like moths attracted to the light of a flame only to perish in that flight, I wonder if we, too, are tied to self-destruction through a drive toward greater technological heights. Conversely, we may be able to use technology and our creativity to become more integrated with nature. As always, the future is uncertain. Art and science are not so diametrically opposed. The practice of both begins with the intense observation of nature, which in turn sparks the imagination toward action. Just pause long enough to look. There is a flicker of hope fluttering in the collective peripheral vision.”