At the end of May, 2016, my backyard is covered by cicada shells. This group of cicada is called Brood V, they spend seventeen years before crawling out to the ground to breed. The most surprising thing about this black and red cicada to me is not only that they spent that long time in the dark, but how tiny and subtle they are. I got used to the super-loud, large, brittle and aggressive Japanese cicadas (one of the few insects in the metropolitan Tokyo area) with only three years cycle, finding out how small and quiet the seventeen year periodical cicadas are was quite a surprise. When I was in a grade school, I learned that the North America has seventeen and thirteen years cycle cicadas (only place in the world) and wanted to see them. Never thought that dream comes true, but Western Pennsylvania is THE place to be for the special seventeen years cycle cicadas.
This is a very special occasion, and for the first two days, I was thrilled to see them. Then they kept coming out from the soil and promptly covered the yard. It was just creepy to see this volume of one species of insects, like a horror movie. Each cicada is kinda cute and romantic to think how ling they spent in the ground for this hatching day, but there are just toooooo many.
My great advisor Ms. Varian Wolf, who is also the gallery manager of Charlie Cummings Gallery, came for rescue (again), and suggested maybe I ought make artwork about it. What a great idea! Sleeping in dark and dreaming about the day to see the world, for a long, long time. Anything could go wrong in that seventeen years, and only the survivors can come out to see the actual world above the ground, just for a few days. What a story to tell, right?
They are still out there and living their short, miraculous life right now. Their lives should be celebrated, and I think the pillow series would be the best to deliver a story on their long waits and sleeps in dark. They remind me how fragile the life is more than anything. What kind of dreams have they had in that seventeen years?
So grateful that I have the chance to see the cicadas, and I swear I will never cut down trees unless it's desperately necessary in my yard from now on. I will never know how many cicadas are relying on that tree to survive for the next seventeen years.