Around the time I graduated from BYU I spent eight months doing a mentored research project where I learned to code phylogenetic characters for fossil dragonfly wings. I’m a little squeamish about insects, but doing this project gave me the opportunity to branch out and gain some more experience on the biology end of paleontology.
I ended up on a trip to an ESA (Entomological Society of America) conference where I got to hear various students and professionals present on the latest insect research. One of the things I encountered was artwork by a man named Christopher Marley, who arranges insects in aesthetic patters and sells the photographs he produces in calendars and other collectable artwork. In a lecture I attended at the 2010 conference he said that he got his inspiration photographing insects because he was originally fascinated by what he thought was their grotesqueness. As he began to study insects more, the grotesqueness gave way to beauty he was not expecting to find and he began capturing that beauty on film so he could share it with others.
I love this aspect of Christopher Marley’s work because it’s exactly what I wish I could do with my writing or other things I do in life–invite others to discover beauty in things that is normally missed (whether I’m succeeding at that or not is another debate). There’s something about turning something that appears grotesque or that we might not understand on it’s head to see what use and beauty we can make of it that really hits home with me. I love growth, I love learning, and I love searching for the beauty in things.
In what unexpected, quirky places do you find beauty that others might not always see?