Cyrus Tilton, Individuals, 2011. Bamboo reed, steel, muslin, and tulle; Variable dimensions. Courtesy of Crocker Art Museum.

Locusts are swarming the Crocker. Made of muslin, bamboo, tulle, and steel, they fill the exhibit rooms, poised and ready to consume everything in sight. This is Cyrus Tilton’s vision of humanity: a crawling, swarming, insatiable cautionary tale of mass consumerism and environmental desecration.

The artist was first inspired to create The Cycle by the huge difference between the stark, lowly populated part of Alaska where he grew up and the cramped, overpopulated Bay Area where he then lived. He chose the locust, a type of mutating grasshopper, because it can transition from being a solitary creature to part of a swarm. “All of the sudden, they’re out of control,” according to Tilton in a Crocker press release. “Everything goes into overdrive.… They eat themselves out of house and home and move on to another area.”

Cyrus Tilton, Potentials (detail), 2011. Concrete, wire, polymer clay, rocks, sand, and found objects. 12 x 11 x 4 in. Courtesy of the Crocker Art Museum.

The late artist and environmentalist (Tilton passed away from esophageal cancer last year) still held out hope for humanity. “It is my hope that we can reject our tendencies toward the growing swarm of mass consumerism,” Tilton said. “Perhaps the line of human evolution that we are walking will fall on the side similar to that of the colony or hive that works together for the common good and is more mindful of using only the necessary resources to make it happen in a non-destructive way. If we can maintain this balance, there may be hope for us after all.”

Cyrus Tilton, 2016. Photo: Su Evers.

The exhibit runs until July 15th although some pieces will remain in the permanent collection. The museum is located at 216 O Street Sacramento, 95814 and is open 10 am to 5 pm most days. For admission and more information, click here.

Words: Katta Hules. Photos courtesy of the Crocker Art Museum.

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