PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The “Exquisite Creatures” exhibit opens Saturday at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
Christopher Marley creates artwork using what he calls artifacts of nature: insects, bugs, beetles, snakes, and other creatures.
“I grew up as an OMSI kid,” said Marley. “Now to come back and exhibit here is fabulous.”
He said he hated insects growing up, but when Marley started traveling in his 20s, instead of taking photos, he collected bugs as souvenirs.
“I was an artist and a naturalist really from my earliest memories,” said Marley. “It came together when I was traveling all around the world in the fashion industry — it gave me access to environments all over the planet and I was passionate about jumping out into the jungle when I could discover things for myself.”
His hobby turned into his life’s work, which is now in private collections. He works with what arrives at his Salem warehouse studio after the creatures die of natural causes — many of them come from zoos, breeders, and collectors around the world.
“We teach indigenous people how to collect common insects and sell the to collectors around the world so they can justify preserving that habitat,” said Marley.
He freeze dries the specimens, then he starts creating. They are transformed into a myriad of designs that make the viewer marvel at the colors, details, and shapes in nature. Some 500 pieces will be on display at OMSI. Marley is working with more science museums and art galleries around the globe to reach a larger audience — a way to send a message about preserving the planet.
“My hope is that people will come here and see things from all over the world,” said Marley. “Many things they have never seen before and develop a new love for some of these creatures that don’t get a lot of love in the world.”
Earlier this year, KOIN 6 New visited Marley’s studio to watch as he worked.
“Exquisite Creatures” will be a 13,000 square-foot installment. Entry to the exhibit is included with general admission.