Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - 10:30

Assumption Professor Expresses Artistic Vision with Luna Moths Installation

By Nick Rino

Luna Moths Assumption College’s associate professor of Spanish and the department chair of Modern and Classical Literature is not only an expert linguist, but also an accomplished artist. Beyond the classroom, Arlene Guerrero-Watanabe, Ph.D., engages in a unique hobby that enables her to truly express her artistic vision: sculpting.

Upon her successful application for an external art grant last winter, Prof. Guerrero-Watanabe purchased materials necessary to sculpt two pieces of work titled Luna Moths. The sculptures were recently exhibited at the Firefly Arts Festival in Vermont, an endeavor modeled after the popular “Burning Man” event. According to the Guerrero-Watanabe, the sculptures were intended to portray beauty and creativity and a picture of the short time we have in our lives to accomplish our goals. 

The Luna Moths sculptures stand 12 feet wide and nine feet wide. The “moths” are equipped with 12 volt batteries and speed controllers, so whenever someone passes by the sculptures, the mechanical insects light up and flap their wings. While this is a stunning display, it is also meant to represent the “beauty, fragility, and ephemeral essence of the luna moth after it has emerged from its cocoon,” Prof. Guerrero-Watanabe shared.  

According to Prof. Guerrero-Watanabe, "Luna Moths features and highlights the natural beauty of the luna moth, Actias luna, during the final phase of its life cycle. In climates such as New England’s, adult luna moths typically live for about seven days after emerging from the cocoon. When they first emerge, their wings are tightly furled and incapable of flight. Luna moths must then enlarge and strengthen their wings, a process that can take two hours or longer. These beautiful creatures are remarkable because they do not eat, or even have mouths, in this stage of their cycle. Their sole purpose is to reproduce and create a new generation of luna moths.”

“The concept of such a brief life span as adults serves as a metaphor for the wondrous, yet transitory, nature of all living things,” she wrote. “The brevity of the final stage of their life cycle can remind us of the short period of time we are allotted to complete all that we set out to do.”

Prof. Guerrero-Watanabe has embarked upon a third sculpture that will feature improved wiring connecting the various electronic components, and has submitted a grant proposal to a different arts organization requesting funding to expand the current art installation.

Kimberly Dunbar, Director of Public Affairs, Assumption College
ke.dunbar@assumption.edu @AssumptionNews