Joos van de Plas is concerned with metamorphosis, both literally and metaphorically. As a young girl she became intrigued by Maria Sibylla Merian’s hand-coloured 17th-century engravings of caterpillars, pupae and butterflies, which she saw in the dining room of her great aunt in Mainz. Little did she realize then that the subject would come to fascinate her so much that it eventually would become the focus of her work. After extensive preparations she left for Suriname in late 2005 to follow in the footsteps of Merian along the Caramacca creek for several months, ending up at the remains of the "Vredenburg" plantation where her predecessor worked from 1699 to 1701. Back in Europe Joos van de Plas stumbled on a collection of Merians material in Museum Wiesbaden. Through intensive collaboration with the museum and research there and in dozens of collections elsewhere in Europe her work gained momentum, culminating in a major solo exhibition in Wiesbaden in 2013-2014: Second Life Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium Revisited, with paintings, drawings, videos and installations. She also prepared a wonderful book with collages made up of reproductions of Merian's non-coloured prints and her own photographs of the specimens that, as she discovered, had been used for these prints. In her studio in Helvoirt there is a biotope where caterpillars metamorphose into butterflies. There she made the video "Growing Wings" and the photo series "Caterpillar Architects", both of which will be shown in the exhibition at Wit bij Witteveen # 8.
Joos van de Plas