2024 DayGlo: Bug-Crafting with Artist-In-Residence, Eric Anthony Berdis

March 1 – 30th: Every Saturday & Sunday from 12-4PM, drop in at any time

When was a time you felt squashed by a bug, and what was it that helped you to keep going?” 

Our first ever DayGlo artist-in-residence, Eric Anthony Berdis, will be leading a free DayGlo bug-crafting workshop under blacklight every Saturday and Sunday of March. Drop in at any time from 12 to 4PM.


Pennsylvanian small town-born Eric Anthony Berdis moved to Philadelphia after graduating high school in 2013, and further developed an artistic practice after exposure to newly accessed progressive queer ideology of the East Coast city. In commemoration to the artists that had died as a cause of the 1980s AIDS Crisis, Berdis began constructing “gay ghosts,” giant sculptures draped out of colorfully patterned fabrics. Also as a schoolteacher, Berdis further developed his aim in how to make difficult and important cultural information more digestible and empowering for younger minds. 

In 2018, Illinois State University commissioned Berdis to create an exhibition in conjunction with their safety-zone training done in light of the infamous 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student tortured and tied to a prairie fence. At the time, the heaviness of this subject invited Berdis to feel connected with the 1955 Allen Ginsberg poem, “Sunflower Sutra,” in which the writer walks along a railroad and discovers a run-over sunflower covered in soot. “When did you forget you were a flower? When did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive? …You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!” 

“When was a time you felt squashed by a bug, and what was it that helped you to keep going?” Inspired, Berdis first proposed this prompt to his classroom, inviting students to respond by creating insects out of colorful paper and fabric. With considerable positive feedback of excitement, Berdis began to induct this prompt into his personal art practice by including the insects in the installations with his gay ghost sculptures, and in his community AIDS quilt-tying workshops. The insects had become a symbol of unconventional identity: how each bug is uniquely beautiful, and how together as a swarm they create powerful resilience. 

As an extension of Berdis’s running bug project, the “How Does Your Garden Glo?” workshop at Waterloo Arts will also encourage focus on the importance of an insect’s connection to the garden’s ecosystem, a parallel to the self in a community. Bugs created during his Waterloo Arts residency can either be taken home or donated to Berdis to further become quilted and included in his upcoming art installation at the Massillon Museum in 2025. Berdis has received honors from the Amos Lemon Burkhart Foundation and the Lydia McCain Artist Fellowship.

“How Does Your Garden Glo?” will be up to view in the gallery from 12-4PM on Thursdays and Fridays, and with Eric present on Saturdays and Sundays from March 1st through the 30th.

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