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The Science and Entertainment Exchange blog has an interesting post up about artist Willard Wigan, who creates sculptures that can only be seen through a microscope.

Wigan’s story is touching – he started sculpting as a child, when his dyslexia made school a painful challenge. He says,

“I started making houses for ants because I thought they needed somewhere to live. Then I made them shoes and hats. It was a fantasy world I escaped to.”

(That totally reminds me of the scene from Zoolander where the none-too-bright model played by Ben Stiller stares at a scale model of a proposed school building and demands, “What is this? A school for ANTS?”)

Anyway, I can relate to Wigan’s process. During grad school, I did thousands of dissections on a tiny scale, under a microscope, using needles made from sharpened wires. Wigan works on approximately the same scale – something I really can’t imagine choosing to do for fun. The elaborate display cases he creates for his work are basically idiosyncratic microscopes, since you couldn’t see his pieces otherwise.

Wigan’s sculptures are simple – ranging from animals to celebrities (including Henry the Eighth and his wives), often posed on the head of a pin or the eye of a needle. From an artistic standpoint, they’re more “wow” than “profound”. But they don’t really need to be both.

More at the Science and Entertainment Exchange – including a link to Wigan’s TED talk.


  1. #1 Glendon Mellow
    August 28, 2009

    Amazing. That owl is pretty cute.

    And I totally agree: art doesn’t have to always aim for profound. I just wish some artists admitted that more instead of planting jargon in their explanations. (Obviously I’m looking forward to returning to my BFA with trepidation).

  2. #2 Jan-Maarten
    August 29, 2009

    And there is more! Check out Hagop Sandaldjian at the Museum of Jurassic Technology:

  3. #3 David Bruggeman
    August 29, 2009

    Wigan was on the Tonight Show earlier this month, in part because some of his works are touring the country.

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