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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Moths: the emo butterflies

    Moths are the tragically drab cousins of the butterflies. Little is known about them, and there are only a devoted few who dedicate their lives to studying them.

    Joseph Scheer, a professor of print media and the founder and co-director of the Institute for Electronic Arts at the School of Art and Design at Alfred University in New York, has brought his first Arizona exhibit to the UA Museum of Art to give everyone the chance to change their minds about these curious nocturnal insects.

    “”Our culture has mislabeled them, like it has mislabeled a lot of things,”” he said.

    “”I hope this exhibit provokes people to re-examine our hierarchy and what is considered beautiful and not beautiful so they can break away from those artificial standards.””

    At the entrance to the museum, Tucson Botanical Gardens has built a display with moths and butterflies available for you to examine under a microscope. There are also caterpillars that you can watch fight, poop and crawl all over each other.

    A video presentation shot by Scheer and his colleague Mark Klingensmith gives you an up-close look at tarantulas, scorpions, adult moths and moths in the larvae stage. Acrobatic caterpillars grasp needles of tree leaves and chow down, like a reality-television version of “”Alice in Wonderland.”” Moths flutter on the screen like a scene from “”Silence of the Lambs,”” but this documentary is more enchanting than anything in the horror-fiction genre. The moths are reminiscent of tiny airplanes getting ready for takeoff.

    “”It’s so cool how they look like leaves,”” said one museum-goer.

    In the main exhibition hall, digital prints attract the eyes to colors and species of moths that most people never knew existed. Some are spotted like dalmatians, while some are cotton-candy pink and fluffy like fairytale creatures. They are just as beautiful as butterflies, yet commonly disregarded.

    Scheer tells the story of a colleague who was extracting a moth from its habitat during the daytime. A hiker came by and protested that the man leave the “”butterfly”” alone. After he told her it was a moth, she was no longer interested.

    “”If it’s a rare butterfly, everyone would be upset,”” Scheer said. “”When people think of moths, they don’t care. People see them as pests.””

    “”Part of the reason I’m doing this work is to spread word not to dismiss them as insignificant creatures on the planet,”” he said. “”This exhibit is a celebration of moths and biodiversity on the planet. People can experience them in a new light and find a new way of understanding them.””

    Prepare to be fascinated and left wide-eyed at the sight of such beautiful creatures, which we have all encountered, yet most likely have never understood. This exhibit is a must-see experience and showcases the giant learning opportunity that is presented to patrons of the arts.

    “”Flight, Light and Desire”” will be on display at the UA Museum of Art until Oct. 8, with a reception Aug. 31 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

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