Märta Mattsson’s ‘Petrified Lives’ at Sienna Gallery

Märta Mattsson‘s solo exhibition ‘Petrified Lives’ is currently on show at Sienna Gallery in Lenox, MA. The show opened on June 29th and will run until July 22nd.

Last Saturday, the gallery invited the public to join the artist’s reception. Since Utica is only two and a half hours away by car, I thought it would be a great opportunity to see the show and meet Märta.

We, my partner Barry and my jeweller friend Patrick McMillan, arrived early in Lenox and after a very lazy afternoon spent at ‘Haven Café‘, we strolled over to the gallery. Sienna Gallery is a space made from two connecting rooms. The room on the left shows permanent work and pieces of selected artists. The room on the right is used as the space dedicated to the newest show on display.

Based on the bug and beetle influenced topic of Märta’s creations, the artist chose to present the pieces in a forest-like display. The room was filled with several branches and trees holding Märta’s creations, showing a variety of pieces ranging from 2010 until now.

For me, it was interesting to see Märta’s development over the years through the changing use of materials, but still turning around a similar interest. I got the chance to meet and talk to Märta, an opportunity that filled me with joy, since I have to admit that I am quite a fan of her work. She is a very lovely person and we had a rather long conversation about the nature of her work, inspirations and making of her pieces. We found that we are both ‘Hate-Bug-Lovers’, people who are deeply inspired and intrigued by bugs but intimidated and disgusted at the same time. Working with bugs can be a constant battle of admiration and disgust, regularly pushing boundaries and expectations.

Another very interesting aspect that comes with Märta’s pieces is people’s reaction and the perception of the objects, when realising that there are still ‘real’ bugs ‘living’ in the jewellery. Märta had just finished explaining to us that peoples’ reactions can be very strong and diverse, when another visitor of the gallery approached her and enquired about a specific piece, a spider being cut in half. When the woman learned that the ‘skin’ of the spider was still in the piece, she shrieked and did not dare to touch it anymore!

The whole scene was somewhat funny to look at but also showed that Märta’s jewellery is not just pretty, daily ready-to-wear-bling but jewellery that truly pushes limits. Personal limits for sure, since the wearer is constantly aware of the fact that they are adorning themselves with a real insect, as well as ecological limits. I would like to think that once people get over this EEEWWW-A-BUG-mentality and encounter the beauty of those insects, they would want to help and preserve those species as well. This also makes me think of Christopher Marley‘s work. I certainly hope there will be more artists embracing this kind of topic and trying to make a difference for both, people and nature.

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