For some, the fear of flying insects is all too real and the thought of them results in a serious case of the heebie jeebies. For Connie Z, artist and Spoonflower Operations team member, they served as a spark of artistic inspiration. Showcasing her talent at The Carrack Modern Art exhibition space, La Chicharra consisted of large-scale charcoal drawings and installations that capture the essence of the cicada (chicharra), a figure that has been a central icon from her childhood.
With the intrigue of learning more about Connie’s unique inspiration, Spoonflower team member Meredith bugged Connie about her upcoming show, the roots of her cicada interest, and how Spoonflower became a part of the exhibit.
Spoonflower employee and talented artist Connie Z. wears her art with a custom printed silk crepe de chine scarf inspired by her charcoal drawings and her environment.
What attracted you to drawing insects, particularly cicadas?
I’ve always been interested in how “otherworldly” insects appear. I didn’t realize my affinity for cicadas until I moved to North Carolina three years ago. When I moved here, I didn’t know anyone and my surroundings had completely changed. One thing that I found familiar and comforting were the cicadas and I began collecting the the shells of skin they’d had left behind. I’d sit and examine each one and then it just kind of hit me, the realization that this was something that I had done every summer for as long as I could remember.
What do you aspire to achieve through your artwork?
My work has always been driven by direct observation. I’ve always cared a great deal about detail and rendering. I’m beginning to push it in a slightly different direction by combining visuals from memory to create pieces that are somewhat abstract or surreal. My intention isn’t to convince or inform anyone of new ideas, but to maybe encourage them to pause and reflect on their memories with me.
Connie’s large scale charcoal drawings show the fine details of chicharras (cicadas).
What elements of your show were created through the use of Spoonflower?
After working at Spoonflower for a year, I had spent plenty of time thinking about the characteristics of the fabrics and papers long enough to have an idea as to which product would be most effective for creations that would float in and out of my mind. I hoped to use them in slightly “unconventional” ways. I incorporated silk crepe de shine in a hanging instillation. The material is just so beautiful and delicate-looking, but is also sturdy and elegant. The elasticity, color and translucency were important to me when looking for a material that suits the aesthetic I wanted to achieve.
Cicadas printed on woven wallpaper were hand cut by Connie and turned into a much more meaningful project than she anticipated.
Why did you want to incorporate Spoonflower elements?
I knew I wanted people to interact or take part in the show one way or another. I very much wanted the idea of play and curiosity to be strong components in this piece. Peel and stick woven wallpaper was a great. I photographed the shells and had them printed on the woven wallpaper. Then, each one was cut out with scissors. Without realizing, this piece ended up meaning so much more to me than my original concept. It took on a beautiful collaborative life of its own. The process of cutting out thousands of cicadas was a bit daunting, but on a short trip home, the idea of “community” and participation became more than prominent. I sat at the dining room table at my parent’s house, cutting. Then my mom sat down next to me with a pair of scissors and began helping me. Then my dad joined in. A couple hours later, my sister and brother joined us. I thought of how much I missed being with them and tried to think of the last time we were all doing something together. When I came back to North Carolina I realized friends were eager to help, too. I tend to forget about that aspect of art. For me, drawing is a very solitary act and I focus on what’s right in front of me. The three-dimensional pieces take me out of that and remind me of how important it is to share. Seemingly tedious tasks becomes a shared experience.
Cicadas float from silk crepe de chine frames at the Carrack Modern Art La Chicharra exhibit.