Oregon-based Christopher Marley is an author, artist and naturalist. The New York Times has credited his work as “an elegant manifesto meant to nudge us off our couches and easy chairs and out the door.” In May, Marley gave a riveting speech on his eccentric view into the potential reach that modern-day naturalists can have.
During his three days on campus, Marley toured the art department, the Nancy Richardson Design Center, and the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity. The club also took him to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
One of the core values of the Entomology Club is to create holistic learning experiences for all diverse backgrounds, and bringing in an author and artist offered the student community a unique perspective into the scientific community.
Nature as an omnipresent and unjudging friend
Marley’s seminar gave insight into his unique childhood struggles, his early career as a model traveling around the globe, his renewed passion for the natural world, and everything in between.
“Though I didn’t figure it out until I was an adult, as a boy I had terribly wonderful – or, wonderfully terrible – ADHD,” said Marley, “I had a difficult time making and keeping friends in school. At times, my angel mom struggled to know what to do with me. Thankfully, we lived in rural Oregon, and so she often exercised the option of kicking me outside. It was there that I discovered that nature could be an omnipresent and unjudging friend.”
Marley knew that he wanted to be an artist since grade school. While attending Brigham Young University, Marley admitted that he was – and is – a terrible student. He took two years off to serve as a missionary in the northern regions of Chile, and it was there where he realized his annoyance with intrusive and bothersome insects.
During his time shooting in the jungles of Thailand, Marley was so touched by the microcosms of biodiversity around him that he saw a clear connection between his passion for beauty, art, nature, and monsters.
“Where organisms are familiar,” Marley says, “I want to inspire new interpretation. Where common in one environment, an incongruous context can spark enlightenment. I believe it is my duty to help rekindle a beauty for the organisms that we share our planet with while reminding people that their unique talents, insights, and creativity are of tremendous value.”
A passion for sciences and art
Flip through the pages of either one of Marley’s books or visit his website and you’ll begin to see the true passion he holds. Rarely is the bridge between science and art crossed, yet Marley seems to have married these two elements in splendid matrimony.
“All the vertebrates I work with are reclaimed specimens – this means they are animals that have died of natural causes in captivity, and then are acquired and preserved in my work as an alternative to simply being disposed of,” he says. “The insects I work with are bred and collected in sustainable ways by locals who live in or near some of the most threatening environments in the world.”
Unabashedly advocating for the preservation of the natural world, both literally and figuratively, Marley offered CSU students an eccentric view into the potential reach that modern-day naturalists can have.
“Learning about the use of reclaimed specimens and the purchase of insects for commercial gain was a different take on industry and hobby insect collecting,” said Melissa Schreiner, president of the Entomology Club, “Mr. Marley had a unique seminar that was well-rounded and relatable to a variety of students, faculty, and people of the community here on campus.”
About the author
Christopher Marley is a New York Times bestselling author, artist and naturalist. His first book, Pheromone, was published in 2008 and was named “Best Book of the Year” by The Times UK. His second book, Biophilia, was published in 2015. For more, visit https://christophermarley.com/