Susan's "subject matter, context and medium...present a coherent artistic vision"
John Torreano, Clinical Professor of Studio Art, NYU

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Seymour Chwast

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Insect Queen





We called my father “Daddy Long Legs” because he was tall and had extremely long legs. He told us that he had been drafted by the New York Knicks, but had decided to become a surgeon and use his extremely long fingers instead. Of course, he was a pathological liar and there is no evidence to support his claim that he was drafted to play professional basketball. However, he really did become a surgeon.
I offer this bit of family history as an explanation for my kindly and unusual relationship with insects. I am in awe of their exquisitely designed, exotic little bodies. Their shape, construction, patterns and colors serve as inspiration for me as an artist. I am amazed by their variety: they outnumber any other class in the animal kingdom. I feel it is my duty to take care of them. In fact, I love them. This is called father-insect transference.

My husband on the other hand, dislikes and is frightened by these little bugs. He believes they are terrifying and the ugliest things he has ever seen. If an insect is in a room, he will not enter until I have removed the alien offender. I perform this task with kid gloves – not for my protection, but so I do not injure their vulnerable little bodies, frail limbs and antennae. I relocate them to the gardens outside of our cottage. Other services I perform for them are as follows: I have removed them from my dog’s mouth when she decided to make a snack out of them; I let spiders spin their webs in my gardening hat – sort of like a veil (I only ask that they do not have too large a family); I import ten thousand lady bugs every summer to live happily in my perennial garden; I pray over dead praying mantises.

One very hot and sunny summer day, I was weeding in my rock garden along with forty or so pollinating bees. They were swirling all around me, even my face, and sometimes even landing on me. I was not afraid. They are my co-workers and friends. (I have only been stung once in many years and I am sure that sting was an accident.) I noticed my husband watching me from the porch, lemonade in hand, with a huge smile on his face. Through the jalousies he called, “I’m the luckiest man in the world.” I called back, “Why? Because I love you, I’m a good gardener, my visa bill was low, pretty, smart, talented, good worker , cook, what….” He replied, “No, because when the insects take over the world and kill all human beings, you will be their queen and they will spare me because I am married to you.”

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