Art by Holly Senn. Photo courtesy of the artist

According to Borror’s introduction to The Study of Insects, a wasp is “any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant.” Which got us thinking about definitions – what does it mean, anyway, to be neither hide nor hair, neither fish nor fowl, neither here nor there – and is the artichoke a fruit or a vegetable? (The artichoke is a thistle.) Nature investigator and artist Holly Senn designs wasp nest sculptures that are not textbook representations, yet their raw material is actually the leaves of discarded books. With their original meaning ripped asunder, these assemblages are neither linear narrative nor act of nature, but contemplative works of art.

Moss + Mineral is pleased to present sculpture by Holly Senn at “Natural Spectacle: Art + Eco-Furnishings”, a group show opening June 7, 1-6pm.

Inhabit installation (detail)

Reading into nature, line by line. Photo courtesy of the artist

You’ve likely considered it before – the tradeoffs of swapping out one’s personal library for electronic books. But Senn goes a step deeper. From within this contemporary phenomenon, and from her particular viewpoint as a virtual reference librarian, she works to create “contemplative environments that give viewers a reprieve from modern distractions and introduce them to forms (real and imagined) that combine the intellectual world with the natural world.” (www.ryksenn.com)

In a Spaceworks Tacoma article, Senn’s cache of old, castoff books is described as the “rich mulch from which art arises.” Her previous work, shown in venues such as vacant storefronts, university galleries, and a Portland hotel, draws largely on botanical references; her most recent work includes birdnest forms. The pieces for the M+M show resemble globular wasp nests. The nests look to have been abandoned by their insect inhabitants, leaving us to admire the inanimate sculpture of their abodes. Senn researches actual specimens, considering factors of habitat, permanence and impermanence, emergence and fluency.

Photo: Jordan Hartman

Holly Senn. Photo: Jordan Hartman

Senn explains in her artist’s statement that by choosing as medium the pages of books, an easily recognizable and iconic material, she explores “the conceptual fluidity and interconnectedness of ideas—how ideas are generated, dispersed, referenced or forgotten.” It is the stature of printed words in the digital age, and an earthly nest’s temporality, that make her work most timely and poignant. ~ By Allison Phillips & Lisa Kinoshita

Please join us at the opening reception of “Natural Spectacle: Art + Eco-Furnishings”, a group show opening June 7, 1-6pm. Exhibition features Holly Senn, Carlos Taylor-Swanson, Jeff Libby + Adrienne Wicks, Claudia Riedener, and Harriet McNamara. Address: 305 S. 9th St. in Tacoma; 253.961.5220. http://www.mossandmineral.com

  1. Pingback: Moss + Mineral blog post re Holly Senn | Holly A. Senn

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