Mike Libby (b 1976), creator of INSECT LAB since 1999, is a multi-disciplinary artist who makes sculptures, models, collages and drawings using diverse materials, conceptual curiosity, and diligent craftsmanship to balance it all. Mike exhibits throughout the US and in parts of Europe, his work is in collections national and worldwide. He enjoys being an active member of his local community in Southern Maine as a visiting artist at several educational institutions, an entrepreneur and an advocate for personal and social creativity.
Mike Graduated with a degree in Sculpture from RISD in 1999 and has since attended the Vermont Studio Center, been artist-in-residence at the University of Maine at Orono, has enjoyed being a recent presenter at Pecha Kucha events in addition to exhibiting in unique group shows in Mansions and otherwise .
Through Insect Lab, Mike has worked widely with book writers, editors, publishers, and members of the science fiction community, educators, gallery and museum curators, debuted at high end craft shows such as CraftBoston, Philadelphia and Smithsonian, has been a guest of Hasbro, featured through Neiman Marcus, carried by Anthropologie and inspired Jason Wu’s “2013 Resort Collection”. Originally from central Maine, he currently resides and works in South Portland, enjoying the nearby bike path with coastal views..
How did insect lab begin?
One day I found a dead intact beetle. I then located an old wristwatch, thinking of how the beetle also operated and looked like a little mechanical device and so decided to combine the two. After some time dissecting the beetle and outfitting it with watch parts and gears, I had a nice little sculpture.
Where do you get your insects?
I get safe non-endagered high quality specimens from Licensed Dealers who supply from all around the world; Africa, China, New Guinea, Brazil, Texas etc. I also salvage insects that I find right at hand, the occassional bumblebee or dragonfly.
Where do you get the parts?
Mainly from antique pocketwatches and wristwatches- and I use almost every little part. I also use electrical components and other odd bits from sewing machines and typewriters. Some people donate their broken watches or father’s old watch repair kit, which is always a great treasure!
How are the insects displayed?
Either in shadow boxes or glass domes with a walnut base. Both are archival and are durable enough to ship long distances without damage.
What if there is not an insect on display that I would like to own? or What if I see an insect I like but want it customized differently?
How do I make purchase?
Paypal, check payments and money orders are accepted. INSECT LAB is not an online store and I prefer to have direct contact with people- so please email me at the address on the contact page and we will proceed from there.
Robot-like insects and insect-like robots are the stuff of science fiction and science fact.
Often in the science fiction and fantasy genre, insects are featured as robotic critters, or vice versa. There are many examples in TV, movies, video games, comic books, even on album covers. From Cronos to The Golden Compass, the insect/robot archetype has been used, re-used and re-imagined many many times.
Both biologists and engineers look to insect movement, design and social behavior to inspire new technology and applications. Some of the most advanced aircraft is smaller than a dragonfly, and NASA scientists are making walking rovers and “swarm theory” probes for planetary exploration.
Technology is finding that the most efficient design features comes from natural systems.
Over time and ironically, this technology closely resembles the musings of science fiction.
This inspiration from both fields is where Insect Lab operates, by celebrating these correspondences and contradictions through patient and experienced handcraft artistry. The work does not intend to function, but playfully and slyly insists that it possibly could.