Camden, NJ—Artist, biologist and environmental educator Brandon Ballengée recently installed his unique sculpture “Temporary Love Motel for Insects” at the Virtua Camden campus.
The huge piece, which will be displayed through March 2018, consists of curved canvas “wings” that are illuminated at night from within. The ultraviolet rays emanating from the installation attract nocturnal insects, so they can be seen and appreciated.
Insects are one of the least understood and most undervalued groups of animals, notes Ballengée. Yet most food crops rely on insect pollination and countless ecosystems would collapse in their absence, he states.
“We need bugs, and it is about time we learn to appreciate these tiny marvels of evolution and heroes of ecosystems,” says the artist.
The Virtua Camden team is pleased to host “Temporary Love Motel for Insects,” which will bring art to the health campus and community while supporting education and science. The sculpture is connected to Ballengée’s exhibit at Rowan University in Glassboro this fall, and will be part of educational programming for students at Freedom Prep Charter School in Camden.
More about the Sculpture and Series
Love Motel for Insects is an ongoing series of public art installations intended to construct situations between humans and arthropods. The works use ultra-violet lights on enormous sculpted canvases to attract insects and create an opportunity for public interactions with nocturnal arthropods, which are not often seen. At each location, the Love Motels become the backdrop for community events such as; picnics, biodiversity festivals, graffiti jams, political rallies, scientific investigations, musical events and even insect film screenings.
The Love Motels for Insects sculptures began in 2001 in Central America. At this time the initial structures were made from battery powered black lights and bed-sheets placed in the Costa Rican forest floor. Within hours numerous species of flying moths, beetles, caddisflies, ants, lacewings and other arthropods descended on the installation. Female moths released chemical pheromones to attract mates and consequently “painted” the impromptu piece. Fascinated and inspired by this initial experience, further Love Motels for Insects have been fabricated along with public nocturnal field trips around the world. To date versions of the project have debuted on boats in Venice (Italy), peat bogs in Lough Boora (Ireland), isolated moors overlooking Loch Ness (Scotland), bustling shopping malls in Delhi (India), outside Aztec ruins (Mexico), New Haven (USA) inner-city bus stops, roof tops in London (England), temperate forest mountain-sides (South Korea), Louisiana Bayous (USA) and others. For more on the series, visit http://brandonballengee.com/projects/love-motels/.
About the Artist
Artist, biologist and environmental educator, Brandon Ballengée creates transdisciplinary artworks inspired from his ecological field and laboratory research. Since 1996, a central investigation focus has been the occurrence of developmental deformities and population declines among amphibians and other ectothermic vertebrates. From 2009 through 2015 he continued his amphibian research as a Visiting Scientist at McGill University (Montréal, Canada) and in 2011 he was awarded a conservation leadership fellowship from the National Audubon Society’s TogetherGreen Program (USA). Ballengée’s art has been exhibited internationally and in the summer of 2013 the first career survey of his work debuted at the Château de Charamarande in Essonne (France), and travelled to the Museum Het Domein in Sittard (Netherlands) in 2014. A mid-career retrospective of his work will open this fall at the University of Wyoming Art Museum. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Plymouth (England) in collaboration with the Hochschule für Gestaltung Zürich (Switzerland). Currently he is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Biological Sciences Department at Louisiana State University studying the impact on fishes from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. For information on Ballengée, visit http://brandonballengee.com.
As one of New Jersey’s largest, non-profit health systems, Virtua provides comprehensive health care services to achieve its mission to help people be well, get well and stay well. Virtua provides services through Virtua Medical Group with more than 450 clinicians and through Virtua Physician Partners with more than 1500 providers at its physician offices, urgent care centers, hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, health and wellness centers, fitness centers, home health services, long-term care and rehabilitation centers, and paramedic program. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers nearly 8,000 babies a year. It provides health services to 1,500 businesses, and participates in Virtua Physician Partners, a clinically integrated network of 1,400 physicians and other clinicians. Virtua is affiliated with Penn Medicine for cancer and neuroscience and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for pediatrics. It employs over 9,000 and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley every year since 2007. It is the recipient of a 4-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for quality of care, and its hospitals earned straight A’s in patient safety by The Leapfrog Group and the 2016 Patient Safety Award from Healthgrades. U.S. News and World Report ranked Virtua’s Mount Holly and Voorhees hospitals as High Performing Hospitals and Voorhees as a Best Regional Hospital. Virtua is also the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit www.virtua.org or www.virtuabroadcastnetwork.org.