My close friends know my fear of spiders.  I know they are useful and beautiful creatures, so I’m really working on it.  I can truly appreciate them out in nature, but can’t abide them in my house or crawling on me.  (horrors!)  My favorite spider is the black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia).  I can enjoy these beauties because they stay outside, usually always on their web, and never terrify me by scuttling across the floor.

Black and Yellow Garden SpiderBlack and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia), from the Illinois State Museum Spider Collection

I have uncovered an interesting bunch of spiders in the art world, too.  Today we’ll start with my favorite, the massive and horrifying Maman, by Louise Bourgeois.

MamanLouise Bourgeois, Maman

Mama Spider is over 30 feet high, and she carries a sac with 26 marble eggs. I like the photo above because you can see the sculptural detail.  But I also love the way she looks so monstrous in the photo below. Both photos were taken next to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

MamanLouise Bourgeois, Maman

Louise Bourgeois was a French-born American artist who only recently passed away in 2010.  She gained fame late in life, but did become a respected and influential artist, with many major international shows and awards.  A tiny, gruff, outspoken woman, Bourgeois created art around the themes of sexuality, feminism, and vulnerability. Read a NY Times article about her interesting life:

“Once I was beset by anxiety but I pushed the fear away by studying the sky, determining when the moon would come out and where the sun would appear in the morning.” -Louise Bourgeois

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