Christopher Marley

MY CHIEF OBJECTIVE in working with obscure organisms is to foster a deeper appreciation for the masterful design found everywhere in the natural world.

This passion began for me with insects. Though an avid naturalist from my youth, for most of my life, insects were to me all that was wrong with nature. I could not find beauty or appreciation in them – only abhorrence. However, once I looked at them from the perspective of a designer, I was immediately affected by how cleanly and precisely they fit my own artistic standards of purpose and sleek utilization. Delving a bit deeper into the insect world, I was shocked to discover how much latent elegance and lustrous beauty I had been unable to see. As my intense emotions regarding insects switched polarity, a driving passion was born to share my newfound perspective. In order to bring others to this alternate view, I needed to take these enigmatic creatures as far as possible out of their natural context, where I had studiously avoided them for so many years.

I undertake this by first prepping the insects in the most cleanly symmetrical forms possible and displaying them in a perfectly antiseptic, inorganic presentation: effectively diminishing the fear of reprisal that large bugs tend to inspire. In some cases, little else is required to form an appreciable tribute to these architectural marvels.

The spatial relationships of the insects I group together must also be as linear and geometrically proportioned as possible. This creates another layer of contextual incongruity, further helping to divorce one from the innate negativity that often accompanies insectual interactions. This is also where the combinations of color and texture begin to form an almost irresistible palette. The various color schemes and divergent textures in my work are essential to showcasing the broad range of radical variety in the insect world. However, I must walk the fine line between appreciable diversity and the entomological nightmare that hordes of insects tend to inspire in many of us.

The resulting effect is one that I hope fills a niche for elegant economy in design while honoring the weighty use of once-living organisms.

Similarly, when working with gorgeous inanimate natural objects such as crystals or fossils, (as well as those that tend to be lumped into the inanimate category such as shells and urchins) the chief directive in any successful presentation has to be for the designer to simply shut up and get out of the way. No one, least of all I, can hope to be able to compete with The Artist in His domain. It has therefore always been my intent to let the masterful work that has already been done speak for itself.

For this reason, at times I consider myself more of a designer than an artist, more of a storyteller than an author. So much of nature’s story is yet unheard. I hope to help it ring more clearly.

—Christopher Marley