Lauren Levato: New Insect Assemblages

As an accomplished writer, arts activist, and collage artist, Lauren Levato exhibits regularly in the Chicago area. She published her first book of poetry Marriage Bones by Chicago publisher Fractal Press in 2006. Recently she published at the hotel andromeda (Dancing Girl Press).

Lauren Levato Arcana1b
The Importance of Order. Courtesy of the artist.
2007, paperclay, acorn, butterfly wing, 3.5″ x 3″

In this series (her recent solo show Entomomancy – New Insect Assemblages at Woman Made Gallery) the viewer can be likened to a reader, as in tarot cards, runes, or bones. Insects and other parts of the assemblages make up a narrative that is open to interpretation based on what questions are asked and who is ‘reading’ the boxes, reading the insects. What if we used insects the way we use other objects or signs as telltales or warnings? What if we tossed out some beetle shells to foretell our futures? Instead of a queen there is a cicada, or instead of a fool there is a longhorn beetle. Other occult ideas have also entered the boxes, such as knots, circles, and hair. I am not finished with this series; this is just the start as there is much to explore, weave, and unravel here.

If you missed Entomomancy, you will be able to see a new installation Cicatrix, Cicada at Art on Armitage in October. Installation of this work will be a continuation of Entomomancy and work Levato did while a recipient of a Vermont Studio Center poetry residency. Cicatrix, Cicada begins October 1st and goes until October 31st and will be visible 24 hours a day. In December Levato’s work will show with Art on Armitage at the Bridge Art Fair 2007 in Miami.

Lauren Levato VSCstudiob
A hint of what the Armitage show will look like
(these word drawings will be in the show). Courtesy of the artist.

Lauren describes Cicatrix, Cicada as a “continuation of Entomomancy. I will explore automatic writing on a large, painted scale with a mindfulness of scars — how and why they form in the physical and metaphysical sense — in people and plants. Also this show deals with cicadas, as this was Illinois’ year to get the periodical cicada but also because the cicada is a sort of totem insect for me.”

In describing her use of bugs and current work, Lauren reveals, “I use real insects in my art. I am fascinated with insects and arachnids, an immense animal group with intricate biologies, social structures and routines. This fascination, combined with my background in language arts and communication, led me to explore the different and complex methods of interaction between humans and nature. I want people to rediscover the power and protection that resides in symbols and codes and in the act of codifying and decoding. Much like insects and plants, humans use codes and signals to convey complex thoughts and messages — mating, navigation, locating food, calling for help, or signaling warnings.”

Lauren Levato Charm
Charm. Courtesy of the artist.
2007, cicada, bone, horsehair, paperclay, 4″ x 7″ x 3″

Levato’s Charm will be be part of Sheets, Planes, and Pulp: Art on (and of) Paper.
opening on Sunday, September 16th, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the Evanston Art Center. The show will be juried by critic Margaret Hawkins.

Levato emphasizes, “Researching and investigating ancient codes and languages has influenced my thinking and approach to this work. I am interested in The Druidic Tree Alphabet, a language comprised of leaves; Nu Shu, the secret Chinese women's script; the Incan Quipu method of record keeping, a system of knots; as well as my own code, written while I was a child in an abusive family. My personal code evolved out of a traumatic time in my own life and involves insects, plants, poetry, myth, and metaphor.”

Lauren Levato may be reached at ladybeetle@laurenlevato.com. Levato’s studio, located in Ukrainian Village, is available for public visits.

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