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Christopher Marley.
OMSI exhibit an exquisite way to get ‘bugged out’ in a good way posted on 10/01/2019

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) welcomes the exhibit "Exquisite Creatures" for its Oregon debut, running from Oct. 5 through Feb. 17, 2020.

"Exquisite Creatures opens the door to a variety of complex topics by highlighting nature's inherent beauty and design," said Nancy Stueber, OMSI president and CEO in a press release to The Mountain Times. "This exhibit is a stunning and insightful way to show that art, science and nature are very much linked together and does a great job at making those topics accessible to audiences of all ages."

Exquisite indeed, this awe-inspiring exhibition showcases the amazing gifts of world-renowned artist, naturalist and New York Times bestselling author Christopher Marley, who has made it his lifelong passion to reveal the obscure beauty in nature and preserve specimens of insects and other life as three dimensional art. Guests to the exhibit will experience the ancient connection between art, nature and science, where Marley taps the natural world as his medium.

Marley explained he was born with a passion for "monsters," so reptiles were his earliest and most natural love.

"I spent the majority of my childhood outside looking for snakes and lizards and raised a number of different species into adulthood," Marley said in an e-mail to The Mountain Times. "Thankfully my parents were very tolerant of my reptilian pursuits."

When traveling and living in Asia and South America, Marley developed his passion for insects. As a young man, Marley had pursued a career in fashion while studying art and design, and it was on a fabric sourcing trip in Bangkok that he found himself exploring a night market, coming across a group of disabled locals selling cheap frames crammed with the "craziest beetles I'd ever seen." Marley was enthralled with being able to examine the huge insects up close.

Later, while working in Cape Town, South Africa, Marley was really moved by how conscientious residents were about incorporating the natural world into their designs and homes. After returning to Los Angeles, Marley was determined to create a living space for himself that was an homage to nature.

Marley possesses one single beetle from the Mount Hood area in his entire exhibit of thousands of specimens, caught by his son, which is included in the largest insect mosaic he has ever made.

"There is so much beauty all around the Northwest, but as my area of expertise has historically been the tropics, I am only now really starting to discover some of the beauty in my own back yard and am absolutely loving it," Marley said. "The rock hounding and fossil collecting here is particularly wonderful."

Raised in the Pacific Northwest, and growing up as a self-described “OMSI kid,” Marley portrayed his field trips in grade school as absolute highlights, and no trip to the zoo was ever complete without also spending hours across the parking lot in OMSI.

Although Marley has been exhibiting all over the world in over 500 galleries and special exhibits for two decades now, he said he had very few opportunities to do so in Oregon.

"To be able to finally come home and exhibit in the very place where my love affair with nature and science began is absolutely thrilling," Marley said. "I'm so looking forward to it."

All of the organisms used in Marley's work are either reclaimed (in the case of vertebrates) or sustainably obtained (in the case of insects), using a worldwide network of people and institutions that share his passion for nature, and frequently offers an alternative to ranching or farming for often impoverished people with few options for sustenance other than working the land.

OMSI is located at 1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland, 503-797-4000.

Information available online regarding exhibit hours and admission prices can be found at the museum’s website, Omsi.edu.

By Frances Berteau/MT

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