Song of the Cicada


cicadae exuviate, filament, gold paint
This work, created from the exoskeletons of thousands of cicadae, spirals around many potential interpretations, leading upward to a place of endless possibility. The cicada is an insect that garners a great many symbolic associations in Chinese literature. As nymphs, these insects live underground at the base of trees for as long as 17 years before climbing up to the tree tops to shed their nymph exoskeletons. Because of this behavior, they are associated with rebirth and immortality. They are even believed by some to connect the heavenly and earthly realms. Similarly, stairways are transitional spaces, and Yan’s choice to arrange these cicadae into this spiraling form echoes not only the journey of the cicadae, but also the many transitional moments we encounter throughout our lives.