Cicadas’ emergence creates artistic opportunities

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Billions of Brood X cicadas continue to emerge across the US, including right here in Central Ohio. 

But some say this summer’s swarm is also a once in 17 years chance to make some unique items. 

“I am so excited. I have been looking forward to it all year,” said Emma Goslin, who is no stranger to using dead creatures to make art. 

“These are coyote teeth,” she said, pointing to the earrings she wore to our interview. “I picked the coyote up off the side of the road, brought it home, cleaned it up. Bugs require a lot less work cause you just need them to be dry so that’s why I really like the cicadas. But I really work with any dead things that I can find except for, like, obviously illegal things.” 

Laura Hiner of Clintonville uses the cicadas to make pieces, including glow in the dark cicada wings that can be worn as jewelry.  

“When there’s a million, bajillion dead bugs on the ground, you use the million, bajillion dead bugs on the ground,” Hiner said. “There’s a lot of people who say they would never wear something made out of a bug but when they see something made out of the wings, they’re like ‘oh yes. I like that.’ because it looks like fairy wings. You know, they’re beautiful.”  

Goslin makes shadowboxes as well as mini display jars, fossilizing a cicada in resin. 

“You get to appreciate the insect itself and you can actually look at them and study them if you want,” she said” You can admire them and their weird beauty. It’s just a way to look at them and appreciate them because most people don’t like bugs, but they are really cool, and they are educational.  

The arrival of Brood X is giving these artists a chance to stock up on supplies to experiment with more creations. 

“As many as I can get, and that could be hundreds if I can get them. It’s just a matter of what I can find,” Hiner said. 

Goslin says she enjoys finding a long-term purpose for the short-lived creatures. 

“Some people do get creeped out by it and aren’t all about it but some people are really into it,” she said. “So, I’ve seen a lot of roadkill in my life. I’ve seen a lot of dead animals in the woods and it’s always kind of disheartening to me. I think it’s just a waste of life and materials because I see dead cats or like the coyotes on the side of the road and I know they’re just going to get hit into a pulp, you know? They’re just going to get crushed and not be utilized and I felt like I can give them second life this way. I can give them another meaning beside rotting on the ground.”  

Both artists say they only work with ethically sourced cicadas – ones that that have already died – which can be challenging to find since the dead bugs are usually quick to be stepped on, eaten by wildlife or just decomposed. 

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