Reverence for Life – Angeline Castillox

Reverence for Life – Angeline Castilloux
Algoma University BFA Thesis Exhibition
April 9th – 12th, 2020
Opening reception: Online

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary
of life”.
Rachel Carson

“Ethics is nothing other than Reverence for Life. Reverence for Life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting and enhancing life, and to destroy, to harm or to hinder life is evil.”
 Albert Schweitzer

My interest in insects began in childhood. I was especially awestruck by butterflies, and I remember watching in amazement as these beautiful, brightly coloured creatures fluttered about from flower to flower every summer.  Eventually, as I grew older, my appreciation for butterflies faded.  It was not until several years later, after I had my own children, and by seeing the world again from a child’s perspective that my enthusiasm re-emerged.

I found myself curious about the existence of insects in relation to the earth and how our industrialized world has affected them.  I began to discover more about their place in the biosphere and more significantly, their importance.  I realized that they are often misunderstood, and are typically thought of as nuisances and pests to eliminate. Yet in reality, they play a crucial role in our environment.  Their existence is critical, and without them ecosystems would collapse.

I was also influenced by the book “Silent Spring”, by Rachel Carson.  The devastating effects of the indiscriminate use of pesticides such as DDT on beneficial insects, plants, birds and larger animals (including humans) were documented and presented by Carson in such an effective way that the book was a catalyst for change and eventually many countries banned them.  Although this measure has had favorable results, loss of habitat and other methods of pest control have caused significant declines in the populations of these same organisms.  The continuation of these practices could have devastating and far reaching consequences.

I decided to explore the theme of insects and our relationship with them through a series of still life paintings, drawings, pinhole photographs and copper etchings.  Most cultures have used insects in much of the artwork they produced.  Historically, they were often included in still life rich with symbolism.  For example, butterflies were often used to represent salvation, death, and rebirth, while dragonflies frequently were symbols of both rebirth or evil.   

I have chosen to incorporate insects into my work more directly in terms of how we relate to them in our modern world, how they depend on the same food sources as we do, how they often provide for us the food we need to survive, and how our actions not only affect them, but ultimately our own species as well.  The pieces also explore our reactions to different insects.  Why do some elicit feelings of disgust or fear in us while others are tolerated and even loved?  Also, when we see the less than desirable behaviour of, for example a butterfly, does it change our perception of it?  Finally, can we control insects that cause us great harm without also eliminating those we depend on?

I have included pieces that reflect upon the absence of both insects and plants. Some portions of certain pieces were intentionally left blank.  The pinhole photographs I have included consist entirely of artificial plants and insects.  We often use these plastic substitutes, but what if the continued decline of both plant and insect species meant that the beauty of nature we enjoy now only existed in our memories, or could only be viewed via reproductions made with synthetic material?  

Ultimately, an insect’s contribution to the survival of all life on the planet is critical, yet we consider its value to be insignificant compared to our own.  Yet what has our own contribution been, and why do we place our importance above all else?  Perhaps reflecting on these questions could help lead us to realize that the manner in which we measure the worth of the organisms in this world, including that of our own species, must change.

Angeline Castilloux

I am a visual artist working in a broad range of mediums. My work is, for the most part, a product of what I see every day.  I feel that the small, seemingly insignificant things often overlooked are the most interesting and unique subjects. There is beauty all around us hidden by the overwhelming chaos we are regularly exposed to.

Northern Ontario has always been my home and has never failed to inspire me as an artist. The Lake Superior and surrounding areas in particular are filled with contrasting features, from majestic landscapes to small flora and fauna. I enjoy capturing the elements of this combination and sharing them with others. In the process of depicting the natural world I have come to realize its fragility. This has led me to consider art as not only a way to express myself, but also as a means of education about issues such as conservation and protection of our natural resources. My philosophy in art, as in life, is that if we can show one another the joy of living in a world filled with marvel and wonder, we can also hope to make life meaningful and worth living for everyone.

1 . A Fruitless Endeavor, Copperpoint and Graphite, 12X16 “,  2020



2. Life Is A Cycle, Watercolour, 21 x 29″, 2019


3. What if There Were None?,  Watercolour,  21×29″, 2019


4. Untitled, Etched Copper Plate, 24 x 18″,  2020


5. Untitled, Pinhole Photography, 8 x 10″, 2020


6. Time For Dinner, Watercolour, 29 x 21 “, 2020


7. A Safe Haven, Watercolour, 22 x 28″, 2020


8. Mourning A Loss, Copperpoint and Graphite, 12 x 21 “, 2020


9. Memento Mori, Watercolour, 29 x 21 “, 2020


10. Silent Spring, Watercolour, 22 x 29″, 2020


11. Untitled, Pinhole Photograph, 8 x 10″, 2019


12. Beauty Is In The Eye of the Beholder, Watercolour, 16 x 20 “, 2020


13. Untitled, Pinhole Photograph, 8 x 10″, 2019


14. Untitled, Pinhole Photograph, 8 x 10″, 2019


15. Life In A Glass Bottle, Coloured Pencil, 19 x 25″, 2019


16. Untitled, Pinhole Photograph, 8 x 10″,  2019


17. Invasion, Watercolour, 19 x 29″, 2020


18. Untitled, Pinhole Photograph, 8 x 10″, 2019