Muncie Arts and Culture Council presents one-night exhibition of cicada chorus

<p>Still shots from the cicada chorus video show volunteers mimicking the sounds of Brood X cicadas in Salt Lake State Park. The Cicada Chorus is a one-night exhibition presented by the Muncie Arts and Culture Council June 29, 2021. <strong>Erin Mallea, Photo Provided</strong></p>

Still shots from the cicada chorus video show volunteers mimicking the sounds of Brood X cicadas in Salt Lake State Park. The Cicada Chorus is a one-night exhibition presented by the Muncie Arts and Culture Council June 29, 2021. Erin Mallea, Photo Provided

Erin Mallea's upcoming projects

For those who don't want to wait until 2038 when the Brood X cicadas reemerge to see another one of Erin Mallea's projects, here is a list of her upcoming shows:

  • Refuge exhibition — at Smith College in Massachusetts
  • Temporary sculptural and sound installation with collaborator Jen Vaughn for the Bloomfield Garden Club in July 2021
  • Tree News newsletter, launched in April 2021, with its second issue upcoming this fall


Source: Erin Mallea

With the Brood X cicadas quieting down around Muncie, one local artist is interested in lifting their voices.

Erin Mallea is working with Plyspace, an immersive Artist-in-Residence program based in the Emily Kimbrough Historic District in downtown Muncie to debut her creation — a video combining volunteers, family and friends mimicking the sounds of the Brood X cicadas compiled together with the cicadas themselves. 

Growing up, Mallea’s father was an avid birdwatcher and she took particular interest in people who mimicked bird calls. She had an idea for a project surrounding people mimicking the noises of insects for a few years, and the emergence of the Brood X gave her the opportunity she was looking for.

After spending time over a few months developing different sounds from listening to the cicadas by themselves and in groups, she began recording people mimicking those sounds —first, family and friends, then Muncie locals and youth from Camp Adventure, an outdoor environmental education facility in Muncie. Then, Mallea recorded a group of volunteers at Salt Lake State Park mimicking the cicadas while cicadas themselves added to the background music. The video that will display at the Playspace Gallery will layer that footage with all the voices and sounds she has recorded during the process.

“We are dependent on many other species, including insects, to sustain human life,” Mallea said via email. “The mass emergence of cicadas is a clear reminder that human beings are a very small subset of life on this planet. If you live in a place where Brood X cicadas are everywhere and flying into you, you’re confronted by this fact.”

This exhibition will be presented June 29 at 6 p.m. for one night at the Plyspace Gallery and will begin with an artist talk from Mallea.

“The artist talk will focus on the work Mallea has completed at PlySpace, as well as previous work,” an event release from Plyspace said. “‘The Cicada Chorus’ was created in collaboration with participants from the Muncie community. This event is free and open to the public, with masks required.”

Mallea said she is presenting the cicada chorus for the first time at the Plyspace Gallery.

“My time at PlySpace is really a first attempt at this idea. It’s been exciting to finally get the project off the ground and experiment,” Mallea said. “One day, I’d love for it to grow bigger and collaborate with a composer, audio engineer and large choir. I’m happy to have this first stage to explore different ways to approach it and develop an approach for the future.”

If Mallea continues to pursue the cicada chorus, she said, there could be an even bigger project in 2038 when Brood X is expected to reemerge.

Contact Sam Shipe with comments at scshipe@bsu.edu or on Twitter @JournalistSam. 

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