All images courtesy of Adrienne Antonson.
When Seattle-based artist Adrienne Antonson describes her artworks as being “resourceful, sustainable, meticulous and pretty,” she certainly has a point. Indeed, this might well be the perfect description for the insects she creates, using only human hair and glue.
Counting on the mixed reactions that anything made of human hair would cause, let alone insects, Flavorpill described Antonson's art as “creepy, riveting and intricate.” Antonson toys with her audience's emotions, making them want to take a closer look while at the same time suppressing a feeling of disgust.
With their often furry appearance, moths lend themselves exceptionally well to being recreated in hair. Something about their soft bodies and flighty nature makes us want to hold them and throw them away at the same time — something that might be said for insects in general.
While some of her insects, like the fly trio above, seem only too real, others are clearly objects of Antonson’s imagination. This next insect, for example, with its giant wings, looks like a cross between a dream catcher and a butterfly.
Separated from her subject by only a hair’s breadth, Antonson’s work has an intimate quality, as she uses only hair from close friends, family or her own body. In the process of creating the insects, the time spent on each piece naturally connects the artist with her materials as well as those who donated them. She explains: “The meticulous process of working with such an intimate fiber inspires a meditation on relationships and connectivity.”
Using recycled and sustainable materials for all her artworks plays an important role for Antonson, and, as suggested, human hair is a very personal material to work with. She elaborates:
“As an artist with a deep interest in sustainable and self-supporting systems, human hair seems the most immediate and true material. I find the historical implications and various uses of human hair fascinating. I am also intrigued with the attraction/repulsion response the material evokes. It is sentimental, challenging and honest.”
Antonson's art certainly does justice to the filigree quality that insects embody. This butterfly above appears so real it seems just about to fly off the branch. And the mantis below looks positively ready to pounce on its next victim — were it not impaled and restrained by pins.
Though beautiful when viewed close-up, few would feel the urge to get any closer to a beetle, fly or praying mantis than they have to.
Antonson has this to say about choosing insects as her subject:
“My current work is inspired by the bizarre behaviors and ingenious evolutionary developments of the insect world. Using materials taken from my own experience and transforming them into real or imagined species provides a unique and intimate perspective on nature and self-sustainability. I see this work as an investigation into my imagination’s relationship with the fluxus state of the natural world. And it leaves me feeling limitless.”
Antonson’s sculptures have been displayed across the U.S. Apart from hair insects, she also has a line of sustainable clothing made from hair, rubber bands and other materials. She is also the art editor of Dark Sky magazine. More information can be found on her website and blog.