Bug Fair at the LA Natural History Museum: May 15 & 16, 2010

May 15th, 2010 by vanessa | 0

Amongst the roaches, butterflies, and scorpions lining the tables of this weekend’s Bug Fair at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, you’ll see something on the macroscopic scale: large stuffed dust mite sculptures made out of re-claimed sweaters from second-hand stores.

Featured in a few of my previous installations and videos, the mites feel right at home this enthusiastic bug-centered event! I had a number of great conversations with bug experts and novices alike on Saturday. If in the LA area on Sunday, come check us out!

Bug Fair
May 15th: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
May 16th: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Free with museum admission
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Mushroom Foray in Beverly Hills

Jan 24th, 2010 by vanessa | 0

Vanessa Vobis: Mushroom in Beverly HillsAfter a week of unusually intense rain showers and hail I set out to discover LA mycological specimen. From the spongy and slimey, to the statuesque and colorful, LA does have quite a variety! Most had sprouted above the ground within the last two days, with the oldest being about seven days in age. Unfortunately, 75% of the mushrooms found were poisenous, distasteful, rotten with maggots, or eaten by snails.

Nevertheless, people in the U.S. are becoming increasingly aware of and interested in learning more about mushrooms… maybe it’s some combination of the economy, sustainability interests, change in values and life styles, delicacy, and medicinal uses (which are so common in Asian pharmacies).

Thanks to a lecture by the Los Angeles Mycological Society, hosted at the LA Natural History Museum, where we saw four hundred images of fungi specimen shown in one hour. This gave us a firm grasp on three fungi categories:

Magic: August 21 to September 25, 2009

Aug 30th, 2009 by vanessa | 1
Magic starting image prototype
Screengrab of installation center image, presented at Without Borders, August, 2009. (Left: Nicole Starosielski; Right: Erik Loyer)

Presently in production, Magic looks at the increasingly varied ways in which artists — or, perhaps more generally, makers — collaborate to bring disparate pieces of a project together to form a coherent whole. The project itself is also a product of these same collaborative forces.

Craig Dietrich, John Bell, and myself, in collaboration with Vectors staff, this summer’s NEH Vectors fellows, and many more have contributed to Magic.  As often happens, the nature of the partnership is dictated as much by the personalities and backgrounds of the collaborators as by the specific technical or production needs of the project. Magic is presently installed at Without Borders VI: Conjunction, a gallery show on the University of Maine campus, through September, 2009. The public opening is September 10th, at Lord Hall. We’ve placed up a Web-based version of the installation interface, and stay tuned for the release of the prototype Web-only project.

Maine Tree Fungus

Apr 5th, 2009 by vanessa | 2

Maine Tree FungusWhen Fungi Ruled the World:
4.2 million years ago many new fungi species flourished during this active time. Fungi’s bizarre cylindrical forms became a prominent element of the terrestrial landscape and some grew as tall as twenty-four feet (see Prehistoric mystery organism verified as giant fungus, University of Chicago News Office). Humans have an intrinsic fascination with the dominant life forms—such as dinosaurs or giant mammals—but here was a landscape dominated by a goliath organism: the giant fungi. These fungi were titans stretching themselves toward the sky and held the stature of trees.

Maine Lichen and Moss

Jan 24th, 2009 by vanessa | 0

Maine Lichen and MossThe moss collecting hobby in the late 19th Century led to the establishment of mosseries in British and American gardens. For a dynamite mossery, see http://…/dsmoss.jpg. While the images here were taken in the forest behind my backyard in Maine, the following is a recipe for growing moss and some related thoughts on green art.

For growing moss, you will need:

Maine Mushrooms

Jan 19th, 2009 by vanessa | 0

Maine MushroomIn 2008, Maine had an unusually high amount of forest mushrooms (described by local residents). While joining the University of Maine faculty during the fall semester I dedicated extensive time observing and documenting the forests surrounding campus.

Maine’s forests brought back memories: when I was a kid in Germany my parents took me on long hikes through the Black Forest. The composting floors–fertile with moist leaves, ferns, twigs, logs, and saturated moss patches–smelled of wild mushrooms. The sensory connections between past and present were fantastic.

Mars Attacks Fragonard!, September 13th to October 4th

Sep 15th, 2008 by vanessa | 0

Come see Mars Attacks Fragonard! at the (106) Gallery, 106 S. Division, Grand Rapids, Michigan . This new show coincides with the three day International Sculpture Conference at the beginning of October in Grand Rapids, and combines elements of past installations Plot and Crystal World . Closing reception will be Friday, October 3rd from 6-10pm.

The show’s title was coined by Mel Andringa, director of CSPS | Legion Arts , describing my installation there in May ‘08 . Jean-Honoré Fragonard created the rococo painting "The Swing" in 1767 in which a young nobleman receives an interesting view up his lady’s skirt while she is pushed into a provocative position (delightfully loosing a slipper in mid air) by her priest. Mars Attacks! is a Tim Burton science fiction film from 1996.

Nitpickers, April 2nd extended to June 1st

Mar 27th, 2008 by vanessa | 0

Nitckpickers at Legion Arts | CSPS in Cedar Rapids.


Estonia: Impact 5

Nov 16th, 2007 by vanessa | 0

tallinn_bunny_combined1.jpgIn October 07 I was invited to participate on an International collaborative project and present at “Impact 5,” a biennial print conference held in a different country each year. I spent 8 days in Tallinn, Estonia and worked on a collaboration that was then presented to the public as an installation.


Oct 22nd, 2007 by vanessa | 2

img_2099.jpgHoping to be an agent of change in this world.. I am currently creating an ecology, an environment encompassing species that are synthetic, beautiful, and 100% composed of artifice. First round of material brainstorm: car headlining, fly trips, beads, Joanns fabrics treasures, shrunken sweaters, foam, foil stamping, and flocking. I hope to have the entire environment smell like Herbal Essences or Rainforest laundry detergent. More to come with a 50’s vintage feel and fantasy.

Various dimensions

Jun 18th, 2007 by vanessa | 0

milkcartonresized.jpgRe-assembled from the architectonic designs of milk cartons after they were printed on different surfaces, such as knitted wool or shop rags. With minimalist fascination, by the angles and planes of intersection, the cartons are translated into two-dimensional prints and sculpted objects. The removal from the carton’s function for consumption, its transference onto cloth and its three- dimensional reconfiguration out of other material, refers to some sort of intimacy, mythology, and Joseph Beuys-like aesthetic.

Collecting and Mapping Residue: Lint Roller Portraits

Jun 13th, 2007 by vanessa | 0

o8.jpgWhenever used, the sticky roll traces its environment and creates an index. It accumulates what washing machines or vacuums have neglected and partakes in the cycle of personal cleanliness. The lint roller’s function, to collect and transfer detritus, is what interest me in them. Perhaps this series is ultimately overshadowed by my other work but ranks amongst my favorite projects conceptually.

Crystal World

Jun 12th, 2007 by vanessa | 0

This project was very much inspired by my recent journey to Las Vegas where I saw a Cirque du Soleil show. This work is comprised of over 700 water-filled clear plastic bags, projectors, and mushroom-shaped lamps illuminating the ground, gave an otherworldly sense to the viewer. One was immersed in warmth and color reflections as the crystal-like drops, suspended from string, refracted light while slowly twirling around their fastened threads. During creation, the ritualistic activity of filling clear bags and binding them onto string gave way to repetition and focused precision. The recurring physical action located me in a serene state that was reflected by the installation’s peace and lightness.