- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The exhibition includes bronze stick insects and a series of digital prints of colorful cockroaches.
The opening reception will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24. Shelomi will be there to answer questions. The gallery is located in the South Silo building.
Shelomi, who studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, has volunteered at the Craft Center since his graduate school enrollment at UC Davis in the fall of 2009. He has taken many of the evening and weekend classes offered there, from flame-working to wood-turning to bookbinding.
The most popular items are his bronze stick insects. Shelomi’s dissertation is on the digestive physiology of stick insects (Phasmatodea), for which he uses the many phasmids reared at the Bohart Museum for research and for public display.
How does he make the bronze replicas?
When a stick insect dies (of natural causes), Shelomi takes the hard exoskeleton to the Craft Center, mounts it with wax channels called “sprues,” and embeds it in plaster. He then heats the combination in a kiln until all organic matter, including the insect, is burned away, leaving a plaster mold with a cavity in the shape of a stick insect.
Shelomi then pours the molten metal, such as bronze or pewter, into the mold using a spin-caster machine. Each mold can be used only once, but the result is a metal copy of the insect with most of the details, from the spines to the delicate mouthparts, fully preserved.
Another display in the exhibition is a series of digital prints of colorful cockroaches, from pinks to greens to blues. These were made by injecting some of the feeder cockroaches used in the Bohart Museum with histological dyes, a process known as “vital staining” that played a big role in Shelomi’s dissertation research. Each stain colors different tissues of the insect with different intensities, and can be used to identify anatomical features.
Other pieces include relief prints of cicadas, ceramic ants, and an oil painting of a Carabid beetle, as well as several works that are not entomology inspired, but showcase “the variety of media and materials one can work with at the Craft Center,” Shelomi said.
Some of the pieces at Shelomi’s solo exhibition will be available for purchase after the show. For more information, contact Matan Shelomi at email@example.com.
Shelomi, active in entomological circles, received the 2013 John Henry Comtock Award from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and was a member of the UC Davis debate team that won the national 2013 ESA Student Debate championship. He regularly answers entomological questions on Quora.
The Craft Center, which offers more than 90 classes each quarter, is open on Thursdays from 12:30 to 10 p.m.; on Fridays from 12:30 to 7 p.m.; and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information on the craft center is available on the website.
- Matan Shelomi and the Stick Insects
- Matan Shelomi's Shorty Award
- Cutting Bergmann's Rule Down to Size
- Taking a Poke at Pokemon
- NSF Grant