Jennifer Angus insects in art at the Bruce Museum

Intricate motifs and hypnotic geometric patterns span entire gallery walls in “Jennifer Angus: The Golden Hour,” on view at the Bruce Museum June 6 through September 8, 2024. Visitors will encounter imaginative works of art amidst a backdrop of what appears to be ornate wallpaper and discover upon closer inspection that the designs are constructed from thousands of individual insects.

Angus is known for her immersive site-specific installations, using insects as her primary material. The exhibition at the Bruce explores the intersection of art and science that is at the core of the institution’s unique identity.

“Jennifer Angus’ innovative use of natural materials and the Bruce Museum’s focus on art and science is the perfect pairing,” Robert Wolterstorff, the Susan E. Lynch executive director and CEO of the Bruce, said. “‘The Golden Hour’ fosters a greater appreciation for the intricacies of our planet by employing unique insects in a jaw-dropping art form that will encourage close looking and inspire wonder.”

Taking its title from the period of daytime shortly before sunset, “The Golden Hour” references the warm glow of light that illuminates the sky as the last rays of sunlight begin to fade. Angus proposes that the life people currently enjoy on Earth is in its golden hour, simultaneously enchanting and fleeting.

While the golden hour is a measure of time based on the sun’s journey across the sky, the artist draws comparisons to the origins of the Doomsday Clock, a symbol that represents the likelihood of a human-made global catastrophe based on factors such as nuclear risk and climate change.

“We are in the twilight of the world as we know it,” Angus said. “‘The Golden Hour’ is intended to highlight what we stand to lose if action is not taken to prevent climate change, preserve natural habitats, quell the use of insecticides and overall see nature as something to be protected as opposed to a commodity to used.”

Crediting her entomological specimens as “Mother Nature’s sequins, magic and beauty,” the artist is committed to sustainable collecting and repeatedly reuses the insects from exhibition to exhibition. Many insects have now been reused in her artwork for more than 20 years. Angus’ work emphasizes the vital role insects play in the natural environment and their impact on the greater world. More than three-quarters of the planet’s food crops are pollinated by insects.

In “The Golden Hour,” visitors are urged to consider what would happen if the creatures that form the fabric of the exhibition disappeared. Angus warns that humankind would not only be left without the art, literature and culture inspired by these wonders of nature, but perhaps without life itself.

A magical twilight lit passageway invites visitors into “The Golden Hour” and transports them on a metaphoric journey. A mesmerizing series of rooms beckons visitors to alternatively crane their necks upwards to examine intricate dollhouses on towering platforms or peer closely into jars of insects suspended in colorful jellies glowing through hexagonal “windows.” Numerous theatrical scenes can be viewed in the drawers of a magnificent Wunderkammer, or cabinet curiosities, featuring insects staged in vignettes ranging from executions to coronations.

“I first experienced Jennifer Angus’ work nearly seven years ago and was immediately drawn to it,” Daniel Ksepka, Ph.D., curator of science at the Bruce Museum, said. “Rather than viewing art on a gallery wall, you feel like you’re traveling into these delightful scenes. Her installations overwhelm you with sheer awe as you enter, and then invite you to linger on the mesmerizing details of the insect wallpaper and the intricately arranged arthropod vignettes.”

In the final room, guests will stumble upon a dinner party attended by large taxidermied mammals from the Bruce Museum collection. Seated at a dining table in a room adorned with insect “wallpaper,” the animals appear to be in a lively discussion as they feast on bread, honey and flies. As the dinner guests ponder ways to halt the precipitous decline of global ecosystems, the work prompts conversations related to edible insects and food security as well as many of the most pressing issues of our time. Angus asks, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world’s problems might be solved over a meal?”

“Jennifer Angus: The Golden Hour” is organized by the Bruce Museum and curated by Daniel Ksepka, curator of science.

'In The Midnight Garden,' detail, Jennifer Angus.
‘In The Midnight Garden,’ detail, Jennifer Angus. Detail image from “Wonder,” 2015. Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC. Photo by Ron Blunt.

About the Bruce Museum

Located in Bruce Park and overlooking Greenwich Harbor, the Bruce Museum is a world-class institution that offers a changing array of exceptional exhibitions and educational programs that cultivate discovery and wonder through the power of art and science. Ahead of its time for taking this multidisciplinary approach over a century ago, the Bruce Museum is at the heart of contemporary efforts to bring together art, science and education to spark conversation, connection and creativity.

The Museum welcomes over 100,000 visitors annually, playing an integral role in the area’s cultural life.

In 2019, the Museum, which is accredited by the American Association of Museums, broke ground on a now completed new building which doubled the size of the museum and tripled the exhibition spaces. The new Bruce features state-of-the-art exhibition, education and community spaces, including a changing gallery for art and five new permanent galleries in the William L. Richter Art Wing; a changing gallery for science; a permanent science exhibition, “Natural Cycles Shape Our Land;” three classrooms in the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Education Wing; and a café, auditorium and grand hall.

When the outdoor spaces are completed in 2024, the Bruce campus will feature a sculpture-lined, landscaped walking path and inviting spaces for relaxation and contemplation—natural enhancements to Bruce Park and an anchoring connection to Greenwich Avenue.

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