SHOP PICK : Märta Mattsson's Wings of Desire

Artist Märta Mattsson‘s  latest creations have just landed in the gallery. Let your imagination take flight with these beautiful and one of a kind pieces.

‘Cicadas are the souls of poets who cannot keep quiet because, when they were alive, they never wrote the poems they wanted to.’ – John Berger

The ancient Greeks not only loved the emergence of cicadas from the ground, and their characteristic song, but also believed they survived only on dew and air. The connection between the red eyes and husked bodies of cicadas and notions of love and piety make sense in some ways—their shrill sound is, in fact, a love song, meant to attract females to males.

In the story of Tithonus, a young man is granted immortality by his lover, Eos. Unfortunately for Tithonus, the goddess is unable to give him eternal youth along with eternal life. Over time, his body ages far beyond normal human senescence; he “babbles endlessly, and no more has strength at all, such as once he had in his supple limbs.” So Eos takes pity on his withering body, and turns her lover into an insect, who then laments his luck by singing in the afternoon. By all accounts he becomes a cicada.

– Read more about Cicadas in Atlas Obscura  and National Geographic

“A certain breed of cicadas that live 17 years underground as nymphs are emerging and poking their little heads through the soil [right now],’ Märta Mattsson writes to us from her studio in Stockholm. “Billions of them arise to live aboveground and reproduce for a week, only to then all fade away, leaving their shells and beautiful wings behind. In this collection I have been inspired by the metamorphosis of the cicadas, transforming their remains into eternal jewels that will live on to become family heirlooms.”

Märta’s jewelry celebrates the mystery, eroticism, and transformational qualities inherent in these insects.  By using a material that at once attracts and repels us, she is evoking a sense of wonder and curiosity in both the wearer and the viewer.

Long considered harbingers of love and lust, male cicada emit mating calls that can reach 100 decibels, the same sound as standing next to a motorcycle revving its engine. The ancient Greeks wrote odes to the cicada and the 11th century Japanese writer Murasaki Shikibu included multiple allusions to the empty cicada shell being like an empty women’s robe in The Tale of Genji. Unlike butterflies, moths, or other insects that undergo complete metamorphosis, cicadas have no pupal state. They transform from one fully-functioning state to another. It isn’t surprising that we consider these insects symbols of renewal, rebirth, and transformation.

This current group of pieces in honor of Brood X arriving in the States, includes sparkling briolettes and crushed pigments, golden wings and opaque antennae. Inherently, the rich and evocative history of the cicada also becomes a layer in Märta’s work. She delights us by putting her own eloquent stamp on it and we become part of that new life, wearing her work out into the world.

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