Lectures + Seminars, City Picks

Seducing Spiders

When: Wed., Oct. 13, 5 p.m. 2010

College of Charleston visiting artist Eleanor Morgan is the absolute opposite of an arachnophobic. The Brit first became interested in spiders after observing them in her studio a few years ago, and since then, her work has revolved around the eight-legged creatures. Her research led her to some interesting facts about arachnids, especially regarding the relationship that humans have with them, like using their silk to heal wounds, make fabrics, and catch fish, as well as for optical instruments and military research. She’ll present her findings in the lecture Seducing Spiders. “What interests me is how our attraction to spiders’ silk is entangled with our mythological and emotional response to spiders,” she says. “In various myths, they are the animals from which weaving and storytelling stem, yet they are often considered as fearful creatures, waiting to surprise us by falling from the ceiling or scurrying from under a chair.” Morgan considers her lecture part of her artwork and will use the images, videos, and sculptures that she’s made as a way to discuss human encounters with spiders. She’ll explore three different types of seduction: human attraction to spider silk, spider courtship and mating, and spider attraction to human music. Using a specially composed piece by British band Oort, at the end of her talk, she’ll attempt to seduce some spiders from the ceiling of the lecture theater. Morgan will also display her recreation of a spider-spinning machine, a Civil War-era gadget that can wind silk directly from a spider. She’s been studying the history of the machine on Folly Beach, where the golden orb spider likes to set up its web. “Most of them I’ve found in forested areas, but there’s a particularly good one hanging to the right of the Gibbes Museum.” —Susan Cohen

Price: Free

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