The Gilgal Grasshopper

A cool rainy day is not great weather for photographing insects, so I did the next best thing, photograph insect art. Looking for something to do before an afternoon flight from Salt Lake, City, Utah, I visited the small, eclectic Gilgal Sculpture Garden created by Thomas Batterby Child, Jr.

Mr Child was an architect and stone mason who gave much thought to religion. He built a sculpture garden as a place for quiet meditation on religion. His garden contains 12 large sculptures and displays. Gilgal Sculpture Garden is currently maintained as a public park. Mr Child carved the sculptures and figures on site, sometimes using nonstandard carving methods. Mr Child put much thought and care into choosing the stones for the sculptures. Many of the stones were imported long distances.

One of Mr Child’s favorite statues was a grasshopper made of malachite. The grasshopper is part of a display representing a verse from The Bible book of Ecclesiastes 12:5. The statue refers to the verse, “…the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden.” The display had an almond tree on top and a grasshopper at the base. Unfortunately, the almond tree died the same year that Mr Child passed, but the grasshopper remains.

Today, locust swarms (grasshoppers) are still a burden and one of the worst plagues. Locust swarms can destroy all crops over a wide area and cause starvation. The plague locusts have been studied extensively, but there is still no easy way to control massive swarms. All the hard work required for planting, tending and harvesting a crop can be undone by insects. The verse from Ecclesiastes uses the term “grasshopper” more loosely as a metaphor for all the burdens that man must endure.

Grasshopper sculpture in the Gilgal Sculpture Garden, Salt Lake City, Utah
Artist: Thomas Batterby Child, Jr.
The sculpture references the verse from Ecclesiastes 12:5.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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1 Response to The Gilgal Grasshopper

  1. Laura says:

    Very beautiful! I like your idea that photographing insect art is the next best thing to photographing insects themselves.

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