Amy Swartz

Pest (detail)
Pest (detail) (2011)
insect specimens, toy parts, mixed media
12 cases, 27″ x 32″ each

In Pest, hundreds of insect and toy-part hybrids are housed in a series of custombuilt, museum-inspired cases. This work was driven by Swartz’s desire to represent human interdependency with other species as well as humanity’s often pest-like presence on the planet. The insect specimens provide a visual dichotomy between life and death as their perfectly intact exoskeletons often appear frozen in the moment of flight.

Swartz began pairing these creatures with figurine parts to explore both divisions and connections among the natural world, consumer culture, fantasy, and her own life experience. Arranged in larger tableaux, these compositions are informed by personal, political, and imaginary social uprisings intended to set the stage for diverse narratives filled with tension and humour.


Amy Swartz is a Toronto–based artist and a lecturer in OCAD University’s Faculty of Art. Swartz creates meticulously crafted collections influenced by mythology, personal narrative, scientific experimentation, and museum display. Her installations have been funded by the Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council, and have been exhibited at private and public galleries, such as Angell Gallery in Toronto, the Cambridge Galleries, and Definitely Superior in Thunder Bay.