Resisting Beauty

I have a folder full of photographs of wasps. It’s about learning to appreciate them. “Beauty” is such a strange word. And to be honest, I am not sure how helpful it is in terms of discussing art. Or life.

I think that the power that the natural world has over us is directly correlated to the amount of awe we experience when we observe it. The “beauty” but the tension between what attracts us and what repels us. Not fear and seduction, but fear as a part of that seduction.

It’s what gives a mimetic work life.

An image of the Grand Canyon without the threat of thirst, of venomous creatures, of falling rocks, is merely pretty. As pretty as dead as cut flowers in a vase. Or maybe not: cut flowers in a vase are in the process of dying and do communicate the tension of life and death – attraction and fear.

If we are made to pay attention, that is.

Working with the wasps requires me to take an opposite approach: to see past the fear to find an attraction. To allow myself to be seduced; to find the line along the thin petiole that inspired a generation of women to cinched their waists with wasp-waisted corsets. A fair amount of people thought this was sexy. And that makes sense to me: sex has that tension between attraction and fear (death).

I guess my job – any artist’s job – is to get people to pay attention.

So now – another cup of coffee and back to the drawing board.