Cicadas make their Olympic debut in miniature art scenes

By Kia Johnson

ARLINGTON, Virginia (Reuters) - Cicadas competing in the Olympics or jamming in a band? How about a line of cicadas waiting in line for vaccinations at CVS?

The appearance of the insects known as Brood X, or Brood 10, along the eastern United States after a 17-year hiatus has inspired Virginia professional portrait photographer Oxana Ware to create small-scale art installations, placing the ubiquitous bugs in novel and unexpected settings.

"I always teach my kids to just be playful and respectful of nature, so that's how the idea was born," said the 39-year-old, who has three young children. "We started with my son's fire truck and that was just a huge hit."

Ware collects the cicadas in her yard and places them in doll house-sized settings she has made to showcase them. Predictably, the bugs are far from cooperative and it usually takes some time before she can photograph an insect in a simulated barbell press.

What started as a light-hearted way to memorialize the cicadas has helped children become unafraid of the cicadas, Ware says.

"I've got a lot of thanks," she said. "A lot of kids that were very weary of these things are now not scared of them anymore, and the 'clothing line' cicada putting on a dress is the reason for that. Kids really enjoyed that."

Ware excels at spinning stories about the cicadas in her pictures.

"I've been missing live music so much so I decided to do a cicada rock band," she said, setting up the scene with miniature musical instruments. "This guy is trying to play the guitar ... The bass has been a hard position to fill."

Having emigrated to the States from Tula, Russia, 20 years ago, Ware even brings her home country into her cicada portrait art with a picture of one crawling up the facade of a St. Basil's Cathedral.

"I always see the best in people. I see the best in cicadas," she said. "I try to show people the best in any situation and I like people to be less stressed in life and have more fun."

(Reporting by Kia Johnson, Writing by Diane Craft; Editing by Karishma Singh)