Creator of the world’s smallest works of art
The work of Willard Wigan first caught my eye in a recent post on The Daily Mail’s website. It featured a piece Wigan had done commemorating the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The subject of his piece is not all that special. After all, many (almost too many) artists created their own tributes to the historic moment. What makes Wigan’s piece special is the fact that it was carved to fit in the eye of a standard sewing needle.
As a small child growing up in Birmingham, England, Wigan suffered from a then undiagnosed case of dyslexia. Cruel children and unfeeling teachers told him he was an idiot. To escape this world, he would run off and hide in a nearby shed. There he began to construct tiny houses for the ants in the shed.
“I started making houses for ants because I thought they needed somewhere to live,” says Wigan. “Then I made them shoes and hats. It was a fantasy world I escaped to where my dyslexia didn’t hold me back and my teachers couldn’t criticize me. That’s how my career as a micro-sculptor began.”
On his website, there are many examples of his work that is all but invisible to the naked eye. To see most of the pieces, one has to peer through a microscope. To show their size on the site, he poses them near flies or ballpoint pens.
Medical experts and scientists struggle to figure out how he does it. While Wigan doesn’t hide his methods, it is pretty much impossible to conceive how he does it. He uses a tiny surgical blade on gold and grains of sand which are then mounted on pinheads. These things are so small, he has to paint them using a hair from a dead fly. It all just sounds to bizarre to be true. Yet, it is.
The proof is in the equally bizarre exhibitions where patrons hunch over specially designed microscope and dome displays. If you have a chance to get to a showing, do it. I for one am waiting for his work to come to America.